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WalkAmerica walkers give babies healthy start

Features Editor

The weather outlook for Saturday is absolutely perfect for a leisurely morning walk.

So, Dianne Smith, chairperson for the Pike County WalkAmerica campaign, said she expects a large number of walkers who are dedicated to giving every baby born in he United Sates a healthy start in life.

The Pike County WalkAmerica will be held at Murphree Park in Troy on Saturday. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. and the walk will get under way at 9 a.m.

"The walk is about 2.6 miles through the residential area near Murphree Park," Smith said. "It is an easy walk and everyone should really enjoy it."

When the walk is completed, the Troy Civitan Club will provide hotdogs and soft drinks and all walkers are invited to stay for lunch and enjoy the entertainment for the day.

Smith said there has been a lot of activity among the teams and she is optimistic that the Pike County WalkAmerica campaign will reach its spring goal of $21,000.

"The March of Dimes campaign is divided into two fund raisers; one in the spring and the other in the fall," she said. "The fall campaign includes the Brain Meadows Golf Tournament and Walk Mania at the schools."

Smith said, over the years, both the spring and fall campaigns have been very successful and she expressed appreciation the all of those involved.

"We would like to invite everyone out Saturday morning to participate in WalkAmerica," she said. "The teams should all be there and we encourage those who aren't members of teams to join us. Just come Saturday morning, make a donation to WalkAmerica and join us for the walk and a morning of fun."

The WalkAmerica committee will have stuffed Easter bunnies and Mother's Day bears for sale that the walk. The stuffed animals make ideal gifts for the spring season.

Smith said the funds raised through WalkAmerica are used for research and to fund grants that are used for proposals here in Alabama.

"The local health department received funding for a program through the March of Dimes," she said. "So, the dollars raised here in Pike County benefit us on a local and state level."

Smith said the money raised in WalkAmerica makes a difference.

"For example, $500 could buy software for three blood pressure monitors for studying the role of stress in preterm labor," Smith said. "Or, $1,000 could buy a month's supply of vitamins and folic acid supplements for 40 pregnant homeless women.

Folic acid can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. These defects can cause serious health problems and can even cause the baby's death."

So much important medical research is being done through the March of Dimes WalkAmerica. It's a national tradition and it has helped hundreds of thousands of babies from death and disability.

"So, we invite everyone to join us Saturday morning at Murphree Park for the 2003 Pike County WalkAmerica campaign," Smith said.

More than a half million walkers in more than 1,200 communities across s the United States will participate in this year's WalkAmerica . Troy and Pike County have always done their part to make the local campaign a success and Smith expects this year to be no different.

Prematurity affects more than 460,000 babies in the United States every year. Prematurity can result in lifelong consequences such as blindness or mental retardation. Nearly half of all premature births happen for unknown reasons.