AUGUSTA, NJ - On a warm and sunny Sunday morning at the fairgrounds there was a sea of purple and white. Grandparents, parents, children, friends and even man’s best friend were out in full force, often dressed in the customary purple and white colors, to show their support at this year’s March For Babies walk event.
Throughout the morning there was food, activities for kids, a trivia contest, local business support and games. Franklin Sussex Automall held their annual Teddy Bear Challenge where, if a person could guess how many stuffed bears were in a car, they would win a 50 inch television and volunteers from the dealership cooked hamburgers and hotdogs for the walkers upon their return from the 3 mile walk. Cheerleaders from Kittatinny Regional High School were also on hand to give the crowd some pep while handing out water and congratulations stickers.
For all of the fun and games, no one at the event forgot the real reason they were there.
“It’s about helping premature babies, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” asked Alicia Ferrante, who is currently running for Sussex County Surrogate. “I have a great amount of support that came out today; it’s all about community spirit.”
“My family and I are here to support this cause because there are a lot of children out there that are born prematurely and need extra help. I think it’s an important cause to support,” said walker Amy Green from Warwick, N.Y.
Families that have been affected by premature birth or birth defects shared their time and talents at the event, including member of a volunteer family Kelly Bernice, who worked on making a family tree using fingerprints of those in attendance as leaves.
“March of Dimes for me just means life. My son James was born at 24 weeks, he weighed 1 lb. 3 oz. and the drugs and vaccines created by March of Dimes gave him a chance at life and that’s what we needed, just a chance,” said Bernice, the 2012 family ambassador.
“He lived for four and a half months and because of that for four and a half months we got to hold him, love him, kiss him, so I’m grateful, but I have to make it better for somebody else. That’s why we do this, so that no one else knows what we know.”
Stories both heart wrenching and uplifting could be found at every turn.
“We do this walk because our daughter was born at 28 weeks at 1 lb. 12 oz., so this is our way of giving back to the March of Dimes to help out with everything they did to help her. She’s going to be three and is doing great, so this means a lot to us,” said Amanda Gilmore, who spearheads the team Jaelyn’s Joggers, named after her daughter, and who is a part of a local ambassador family.
“We would just like to say thank you for coming out and supporting this amazing cause,” said Gilmore, holding back tears after talking about her daughter to the crowd, during a speech. “We feel like this is our way of giving back, we had a great experience with the Morristown NICU, so thank you very much for coming out and supporting us today.”
Cheers and whistles met the end of every speech given and the amount of support, whether it was from friends and family or strangers, was genuine.
Sussex and Warren County March for Babies Chair Barbara Wortmann said to the walkers, “As we celebrate our 75th Anniversary this year, you all have given us the best birthday present we could receive, but more importantly you give babies a chance.”
For more information on the March of Dimes, their mission and what you can do to help, please visit www.marchforbabies.org.
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