WalkAmerica campaign kicks off | NevadaAppeal.com

WalkAmerica campaign kicks off

Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer
Rick GunnNathan Davis, 4, crawls under a bench on Thursday morning at the Carson City Super Kmart. Nathan, one of two March of Dimes Ambassador children, was helping kickoff this year's WalkAmerica Campaign. Born 2-months premature, Nathan has grown into an active, healthy boy.
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Chosen as one of two March of Dimes Ambassador Children for Nevada, Carson City’s Nathan Davis was at Super Kmart to kick off the WalkAmerica Campaign on Thursday.

A bouncing 4-year-old with red hair, brown eyes and more energy than most, Nathan is the picture of health. But it wasn’t always so.

Nathan’s mother, Kathy, developed life-threatening complications during the seventh month of her pregnancy and the decision was made to deliver the baby.

Nathan weighed in at 3 pounds, 14 ounces and, because of his premature delivery, developed a number of complications including heart and breathing problems. He lost 14 ounces, almost a quarter of his birth weight, in his first month.

“The March of Dimes worked with Washoe Medical Center to fund many of the special treatments he needed, like the special incubator equipment,” said Nathan’s father, Mark. “He was no longer than my forearm, just 16 inches.”

This marks the 17th year Kmart has joined in this effort, last year raising over $3.3 million nationwide. The Carson City Super Kmart also made history when it raised $16,300, more than any other store in the nation, in 2001.

“With contributions from Kmart and support from the community, Carson City tripled its goal last year for this event,” said Shelly Young, spokeswoman for the March of Dimes. “Carson City contributed over $36,000 for this cause in 2001 and this year should be even better. We already have more teams signed up than last year and the Walk isn’t scheduled for another month.”

Three events are scheduled in Northern Nevada during the campaign. Carson City’s WalkAmerica, which includes both five-mile “Superhero” and two-and-a-half-mile “Hero” walks, is April 27. Similar events are May 4 at the Sparks Marina and Douglas County’s Lampe Park on May 18.

Many businesses participate, but individual entries are also welcome. For more information or to sign up, call the March of Dimes at (775) 826-2166.

Dedicated to the idea that babies should come into the world kicking, wailing and healthy, the March of Dimes funds research. Through WalkAmerica, lifesaving advances have been developed, like surfactant therapy for babies with respiratory distress syndrome.

The organization also supports research into the prevention of premature birth, genetic research and parent education as well as championing the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, working with states to develop programs that provide the benefits babies and children need.

Efforts began over 60 years ago with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a polio victim who wanted to encourage research to help find a cure for the disease. Over the radio, vaudevillian and entertainer Eddie Cantor asked people to “march their dimes” to the White House to help find a cure and the organization was born. Polio was all but eradicated in 1954 after Dr. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine.

“We’re the only health care agency to meet one goal and move onto another,” Young said. “We’re very proud of that.”

Named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth Magazine in December of 2001, the March of Dimes has been cited for its success in reducing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly, and for educating at-risk women about the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy.

According to the March of Dimes, birth defects affect 150,000 babies each year. About 28,000 babies die before their first birthday and America ranks 25th internationally in its infant mortality rate.

The 300,000 low birth weight babies born in the United States every year, those under 5.5 pounds, are 22 times more likely to die in the first year or have lifelong health problems.

YOU CAN HELP

Carson City’s Walk America is April 27. Similar events are May 4 at the Sparks Marina and May 18 at Douglas County’s Lampe Park.

Call the March of Dimes at (775) 826-2166 for more information.