March of Dimes Continues Mission to Help Premature Babies, Fund Research
Tuesday, April 4th, 2017
One year ago, Glenda Davis became the Senior Development Manager for the Macon, Columbus and Albany area March of Dimes. Working for a nonprofit wasn’t a new gig for her since she has dedicated the past 10 years of her career to finding a way to “make a difference.” But she admits her first year with March of Dimes has presented an opportunity like no other with days spent with “beautiful, sweet, loving families that have beautiful babies,” to days where she’s surrounded by “incredible, live-changing loss.” But, at the end of the day, she says “It’s a wonderful organization with a great mission.”
And while Davis has been with March of Dimes for a year, she says the mission to help save babies’ lives has been clear from the beginning when it was founded 77 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the country searched for a cure for polio.
“They would send out cards asking people to fill them with dimes,” she explains. “Once the cure for polio was found, the organization looked to find another important cause to support, so they focused on birth defects and prematurity.”
According to the March of Dimes, prematurity is the number one killer of babies in the United States. And Davis adds Georgia has a 10.8 percent rate of prematurity which is higher than the nine percent rate in the nation. But in her area, the numbers are alarming.
“In central Georgia where Bibb County is located, the rate is 15 percent. We have a very high rate of prematurity here.”
And to continue their mission in the community, the Bibb/Macon March for Babies will take place on April 8 at 8 a.m. at Amerson River Park. The goal for this year’s march is to raise $100,000 and Davis says all the funds raised will stay local to help fund more grants and research.
“We will start at 8 a.m. and get everyone registered and then we have an opening ceremony where we talk about why we are there. … We have several groups that walk as teams and some will run. We have a picnic lunch after the walk and fun activities for kids including a visit from Spiderman, Batman and Belle.” There is also a Super Hero 50-yard dash for the children and for a $20 donation, children receive a March of Dimes cape to wear for the run.
The funding from these types of events is crucial to continue the mission. And Davis says part of the mission of March of Dimes is research, and Davis says her team is working hard to find out why their rates are so high and target the causes.
“One of the big things we have found with prematurity is the importance of making sure mothers get folic acid. Researchers also founded a drug, Surfactant. It’s basically a therapy used when a preemie is born and their lungs are not developed. When we give them this therapy… it builds their lungs up. All of these discoveries were found through research in March of Dimes.”
Another important discovery through the March of Dimes to help premature babies is the APGAR score and a heel prick used to check for birth defects while newborns are still in the hospital.
And while their research is an important part of their mission, Davis notes another important aspect is the grants they provide to local organizations.
“For example, we are working with Hispanic mothers to give prenatal care and prenatal healthcare at Houston Healthcare through a $19,000 grant we provided and we have received several awards through their Babies Can’t Wait program.
“In Valdosta, we have paired with nursing students at Emory to teach midwives for rural areas—that’s so important because rural areas are where some of the higher rates for prematurity occur. We also have a grant here in Macon called the Stork’s Nest where we teach at-risk mothers prenatal care. After the sessions, we give them tickets where they can go shopping at the Stork’s Nest to purchase items for their baby.” Davis adds the Storks Nest is in partnership with Zeta Phi Beta.
“I’m very impressed with everything the March of Dimes does for our community. They provide so many grants across the state to support research.”