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Community kicks off March of Dimes’ 2017 March for Babies campaign

Community kicks off March of Dimes’ 2017 March for Babies campaign
Community members came together last Thursday, August 31, to kick off the March of Dimes’ 2017 Chesterfield-Marlboro March for Babies.
The march itself will take place Saturday, November 4, from First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville. Between now and then, teams of family members, friends and co-workers will raise money to help meet this year’s fundraising goal of $58,000.
March for Babies, previously called WalkAmerica, is the nation’s oldest fundraising and awareness walk, raising almost $2.5 billion since its inception in 1970 to fund research and programs aimed at preventing premature births, birth defects and infant deaths.
Last year alone, March for Babies events in 500 communities across the nation raised almost $90 million.
Among the many programs this money helps support are five Prematurity Research Centers, the first of their kind in the nation, which use “team science” to study and come up with ways to prevent premature births.
Statistics are concerning:
-1 in 10 babies in the U.S. are born premature
-1 in 9 babies in S.C. are born premature
-Premature birth is the number-one killer of babies
-23,000 babies each year don’t make it to their first birthdays
-24,000 babies each year are stillborn.
For the Chesterfield-Marlboro Walk for Babies,  this year’s honorary chairman is Chandler Herndon, a senior at Marlboro County High School and someone very familiar with the March of Dimes and March for Babies. 
The Herndons were the event’s ambassador family in 2005. Since then, Chandler and his March for Babies team, Chandler’s Chain Gang, have consistently been among the top local fundraisers, and his ultimate goal is to reach or surpass $100,000.
This year’s ambassador family is the Daniels family: parents Brandon and Katie, and baby Elijah.
Elijah was born on June 21, 2016, at 27 weeks, weighing just two pounds, seven ounces, and with Down Syndrome and other serious health issues. He spent three months in a neo-natal intensive care unit, and his family is now dedicated to seeing other babies beat the odds. 
Besides introducing this year’s ambassador family and looking toward this year’s fundraising goal, the kickoff serves as a chance to recognize the successes of last year’s March for Babies campaign.
Coleen Sweatt, the March of Dimes’ development manager for the eastern South Carolina market, recognized the following:
-Top New Team - Blenheim Elementary/Middle School
-Most Improved Team - Bennettsville Intermediate School
-2nd Place School - Bennettsville Primary School
-1st Place School - Jefferson Elementary (in Chesterfield County)
-2nd Place Team - Miracle Molly
-1st Place Team - Chandler’s Chain Gang
-Top Online Fundraiser - Chandler Herndon
-Top Individual Fundraiser - Chandler Herndon
-Team Captain Award - Connie Anderson
-Spirit Award - Bennettsville Primary School. 
For more information, contact Coleen Sweatt at 843-698-0873 or csweatt@marchofdimes.org or visit www.marchforbabies.org/event/chesterfieldmarlboro
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