The annual March of Dimes walking event has a new name this year‹one

that better expresses the focus of the event. Formerly known as WalkAmerica,

this year's campaign is March for Babies.

"March for Babies better reflects what March of Dimes is about," said

Don Blevins, local committee member for the event. "It's about extremely

premature babies and the research that helps save their lives."

This weekend the local 2008 March for Babies campaign officially begins

with the kickoff event. It will begin Saturday, May 31 at 10 a.m. at

Memorial Park, with a slate full of activities. This marks an earlier

kickoff than in past years.

"We wanted to create awareness earlier," explained Blevins. "This will

allow us to better focus on part of our fundraising over the summer."

In fact, fundraising is already underway with events like the spring

yard sale, which was held earlier this month. The yard sale raised $2,500

and the committee plans to hold another one this fall, the week before the

October 11 March for Babies.

First Southern National Bank's Celebrity Chef Sampler is another early

event that raises funds for March for Babies. The kickoff itself has also

become another fundraising event. It generated about $1,500 last year, and

Blevins feels that it will do even better this year.

The kickoff includes lots of food, fun and entertainment. There will be

games for the kids and the adults, as well as fire truck rides in the park.

"Barbara Turpin, Nancy Bell and Sandy Riddle put on the kids games and

they just do a great job," said Blevins.

The Lake Cumberland Street Ramblers will have classic cars on display

and Blevins noted that they have been so helpful with this event.

"These guys and ladies have just been excellent to work with," stated

Blevins.

Musical entertainment will be provided by the Lake Cumberland Gospel

Singers, and there are also plans for a silent auction.

This year's Ambassador Child, Hannah Sexton, will also be part of the

kickoff event. Hannah, who will be four in August, is the daughter of

Jennifer and Scotty Sexton. She was born four and half weeks early, but was

able to stay in Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital because of March of Dimes

research and technology. Hannah is now a beautiful, active and intelligent

little girl, who will start preschool this fall.

Team Hannah is one of the many teams that will take to the track on

October 11 to raise money for babies. March of Dimes raises more than $200

million a year, with thousands of volunteers heading up campaigns around the

country. Seventy-six percent of the contributions goes to research and

education.

Last year's campaign raised a record of $35,000 locally, and with

national sponsorships that increased to approximately $37,000. Blevins said

this year's goal is to raise $37,000 locally. He credits the local committee

for their hard work and commitment to the walk.

"We just have a wonderful committee. Everytime we get together they just

recharge my batteries," said Blevins.

The committee meets every couple of weeks during this time of the year.

Anyone who would like to help with the March for Babies is welcome to attend

the meetings. For more information about the committee or March for Babies,

contact Suzanna Powell at (606) 340-8333, extension 223.



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