ORLANDO, FL, Oct. 18, 2012 – Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, right, received the “Champion for Babies” award for his 40 years of service to the March of Dimes from president Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, center, and chair of the Board of Trustees LaVerne Council, left, at the March of Dimes annual Volunteer Leadership Conference in Walt Disney World. "Mr. Palmer has been a true champion for babies for more than 40 years," said Dr. Howse. "He has helped millions of moms and babies through his work on and off the golf course." From 1971 and continuing for nearly 20 years Mr. Palmer was the Honorary National Chairman for the March of Dimes. He appeared in numerous public service announcements with March of Dimes ambassador children.
In 2013, the March of Dimes will celebrate its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help all babies get a healthy start in life. Mr. Palmer interest and support dates back to his childhood in the 1950s, when his father was affected by polio. The March of Dimes supported the development of the first safe and effective vaccines for this disease. Today it funds research, education, vaccines and breakthroughs to help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.
ORLANDO, FL, Oct. 18, 2012 – Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer will be honored for 40 years of service to the March of Dimes with the “Champion for Babies” award at its annual Volunteer Leadership Conference this evening at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
“From fundraisers on the golf course to speaking out for children with birth defects, Arnold Palmer is a champion for babies in every sense of the word,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes also will kick off its 2013 March for Babies fund raising campaign. The new campaign is led by Bill Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager, Commercial Engines Operation, at GE Aviation.
Awards also will be presented to:
• Sheri Shepherd, co-host of ABC’s The View. Ms. Shepherd will receive the Voice for Children Award for her work on behalf of babies born prematurely. Her son Jeffrey, now age seven, was born 15 weeks too soon and spent months in a neonatal intensive care unit.
• Henry Chen, MD, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, and Jose Montero, MD, director of the Division of Public Health Services at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Chen and Dr. Montero will receive the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Prematurity Leadership Award for exceeding the March of Dimes goal of lowering preterm birth in their states to less than 9.6 percent.
• Deidra Merriwether, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Sears and Kmart Formats, Sears Holdings Corporation. Ms. Merriwether will be recognized for Kmart Corporation raising $100 million in 29 years to support the March of Dimes work.
Mr. Palmer served as Honorary National Chairman of the March of Dimes from 1971 to 1989 and met with most, if not all, of March of Dimes ambassador children during that time. In September, he received the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress' highest civilian honor, in part for his service to the March of Dimes and his role in creating the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.
Mr. Palmer’s support the March of Dimes was personal. His father had polio as a child and the March of Dimes, through its support of research to develop the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines, eliminated the disease in the United States. There hasn’t been a single new case of polio in the U. S. since 1979.
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.