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Renamed effort is still on the march for babies
Some of the approximately 500 walkers and runners start off from the parking lot of Longstreet Clinic on Saturday for the three-mile March for Babies. - photo by Tom Reed

It may have a new name, but the purpose of the March for Babies remains the same: Helping to save premature infants.

Some 500 people gathered at the parking lot of the Longstreet Clinic on Saturday morning to make the three-mile trek, which previously had been called WalkAmerica.

According to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization which sponsors March for Babies events nationwide, some 500,000 infants are born prematurely every year and another 120,000 are born with serious birth defects.

On Saturday, some 50 teams from businesses across Hall County participated in the event that raised about $120,000 for various programs involving premature babies and their parents. Last year’s goal was $182,000.

The march in Gainesville is just one of the marches held throughout the country. The local march also involved information booths and a warm up period put on by JB Jams Entertainment.

The annual march is a fundraising event for the March of Dimes programs, which including funding researching, education, advocacy and community programs.

According to the organization’s Web site, the March of Dimes began because of efforts to battle polio. In January 1938, comedian Eddie Cantor created the first grassroots fundraiser for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to fight polio.

The campaign asked the public to send dimes to President Roosevelt at the White House, an effort called the March of Dimes.