Neighbor: Smith works to help babies

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 29, 2000

Features Editor

Sept. 28, 2000 10 PM

Dianne Smith stood at the graveside of a six-week old baby. If she needed to reconfirm her commitment to the March of Dimes, that was the time.

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"I know what my children mean to me and I knew how hard that infant had tried to survive and how much his parents wanted him to live," Smith said. "I had never seen a casket that tiny. That had a great impact on me. It was one of the most heart wrenching moments of my life."

Smith walked away from that experience knowing the time and effort she contributes each year to the March of Dimes is not in vain. Because of the work of the national organization, many parents are spared the heartbreak and loss of days like that.

"Each day, in the United States 137 babies are born with birth defects," Smith said. "Of that number, 26 will die. In Alabama, we have one of the highest rates of infant mortality and we certainly don’t want to be leading the nation in that category."

Because she cares, Dianne Smith is a volunteer for the March of Dimes.

For five years, she has worked tirelessly to help give every baby a better chance at a healthy life, and, had she known what she knows today, she would have been involved years earlier.

"I got involved with the March of Dimes five years ago when Pike Manor organized a team and I was elected team captain," Smith said. "I had known about the March of Dimes for years but had never really involved. The more involved I became the more committed I became. My family is very important to me and I feel so blessed to have two healthy children. Through the March of Dimes, I can do something for my community and do my part in helping to prevent birth defects. And, hopefully, it won’t be long before we will be able to eliminate birth defects altogether."

Until that day, the March of Dimes is dedicated to giving all babies a healthier start in life. Smith said she is proud to be a part of that and she is proud of the support of the Troy community in making it happen.

"This year, our ‘Blue Jeans for Babies’ campaign raised $7,000 which was 25 percent more than last year, so that shows that more people are becoming more involved," she said. "We also participate in WalkAmerica and in WalkMania, which is geared toward elementary school children. The students at Troy Elementary School will soon be involved in that walk. They will raise money by walking the nature trail and they will qualify for tee shirts and prizes."

Smith said Trojan Brian Meadows, who pitches professionally for the Kansas City Royals, will participate in the WalkMania event.

"Having a professional athlete on campus that day will be very exciting for the students and we expect good participation," Smith said.

Meadows’ appearance at the school with be an event of Brian Meadows Day, which will benefit the March of Dimes.

Smith’s dedication, innovative ideas and her willingness to do everything from stuffing envelopes to having a pie thrown in her face, placed her atop the many March of Dimes volunteers from across the state.

Smith said she is very honored to have been named the 1999 March of Dimes Alabama Chapter Volunteer of the Year.

"It is truly an honor to be recognized on the state level," she said. "There are so many volunteers who are doing so many good things and to have been chosen from among them is very special – a real honor."

Seeing more people become involved in the effort to eliminate birth defects and give every baby a healthy start in life is a special as the state award, Smith said. "That’s what the March of Dimes is all about and I’m proud to have the opportunity to be a part of it.