Congress Passes The March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act

Washington, District of Columbia | Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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The U.S. Senate last night passed the March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act, which honors the 75th anniversary of the historic and ground-breaking organization, recognizing its landmark accomplishments in maternal and child health. The U.S. House of Representatives passed similar legislation on August 1. The bill now awaits President Barack Obama’s signature.

“Once again, a coin will help our nation fight a health threat to our children,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes. “During the Great Depression, citizens sent their precious dimes – 4 billion of them – to the White House to fund research in the successful fight against polio. Today, the sale of special commemorative coins will fund research to identify the causes of premature birth: A dime defeated polio; this commemorative dollar will fight prematurity.

“We especially thank Senators Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Representatives Robert Dold (R-IL) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) for their leadership on the March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act. Their work was indispensable in making this commemorative coin a reality.”

March of Dimes volunteers across the country created a groundswell of support for the coin, sending letters, holding meetings and making phone calls to persuade 72 Senators and 305 Representatives – more than two-thirds of each chamber – to cosponsor the respective bills.

“I am so pleased that our bipartisan March of Dimes Commemorative Coin Act has passed the Senate,” said Sen. Hagan. “Although progress has been made over the past several decades on reducing and preventing birth defects and prematurity, we need organizations such as the March of Dimes to continue to push for more research, more innovation, and more prevention efforts. I am proud to stand with the March of Dimes as they continue this effort.”

“For nearly 75 years, the March of Dimes has touched millions of lives through its invaluable contributions to maternal and neonatal health care in the United States,” said Sen. Collins. “This bill will not only commemorate this organization’s important work, but will also raise money and awareness to help it continue in its noble mission moving forward.”

“I am proud to have introduced this bill with Congresswoman Nita Lowey and have 305 cosponsors in the House and 72 in the Senate,” said Rep. Dold. “This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both Chambers in an effort to honor the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes by minting a commemorative coin. The proceeds from this effort will go to fund critical research and programs that support healthy mothers, infants and families.”

The legislation authorizes the U.S. Mint to strike up to 500,000 silver $1 commemorative coins in 2015 to mark the March of Dimes 75th Anniversary. A surcharge of $10 added to the coin’s cost will go to the March of Dimes. If all the coins are sold, up to $5 million would be directed towards vital programs and scientific research to improve infant health. The March of Dimes will match these funds through private contributions.

The March of Dimes was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 3, 1938, to fight poliomyelitis (known as infantile paralysis, or polio). First named the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the organization conducted annual fundraising campaigns that used the slogan “Join the March of Dimes.” The Foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Dr. Jonas Salk (1955) and Dr. Albert Sabin (1962). These vaccines effectively ended epidemic polio in the U.S.

President Roosevelt died 10 years before the Salk vaccine was proven safe and effective. He was honored for his founding of the March of Dimes to fight polio by having his portrait placed on the dime in 1946.

After accomplishing its original mission, the organization focused on prevention of birth defects and infant mortality. Today, the March of Dimes is dedicated to preventing premature birth and has set a goal of lowering the national preterm birth rate to 9.6 percent of all births by 2020.

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

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