March of Dimes works to protect all infants

The Wicks family understands firsthand what it means when a baby has health challenges.


Jennifer Wicks went into labor three times before Isabella was born four weeks prematurely. No one knew whether she would survive, but she did.

Only a year before Isabella's birth, Mrs. Wicks had given birth to twin girls, Kyra and Jayde, prematurely; however, they did not survive.

Mrs. Wicks and her husband, Forrest, are thankful for the significant role the March of Dimes has played in helping Isabella get this far, so they are pleased to serve as the 2008 March for Babies Aiken Ambassador Family.

They will share their story to help the March of Dimes raise awareness and funds to so babies can get a healthy start in life.

There are about 500,000 premature births in the United States every year, including 168 in South Carolina each week. Babies born too soon are more likely to have disabilities, if they survive. The March of Dimes is committed to reducing this toll by funding research to find the answers to premature birth and providing comfort and information to families.

"Volunteering for the March of Dimes has been a great source of comfort to me, knowing that I am honoring my daughters in such a profound way," said Mrs. Wicks. "If I can help even one family, it's worth it.

March for Babies, formerly known as WalkAmerica, is the March of Dimes' premier fundraising event and benefits all babies -- those born healthy as well as those who need help to survive and thrive.

In Aiken, March for Babies will take place Saturday at 9 a.m. at (the University of South Carolina Aiken). Funds raised by this event support research and grants awarded to programs that improve infant and maternal health in South Carolina.

Walkers and donors are urged to visit or call toll-free (800) 525-9255 to sign up as an individual, start a corporate, family or friends team, or donate to help babies be born healthy.

National March for Babies sponsors are CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, Farmers, FedEx, Grain Foods Foundation, Liberty Tax Services, and Kmart, the March of Dimes' top corporate partner, having raised more than $63 million for babies. Additional national sponsorship is provided by Discovery Health, Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Outdoor Services and Ther-Rx. In Aiken, March for Babies is sponsored by Aiken Regional Medical Center, Bridgestone/Firestone, Publix and television station WRDW.

Last year, the South Carolina March of Dimes invested more than $4.2 million in program services, including research grants and local community services. Through these grants, the March of Dimes is seeking ways to prevent birth defects and infant death, reduce South Carolina's increasing premature birth rate, increase access to prenatal care and educate men and women about having healthy babies.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. For the latest resources and information, visit or

Jamala Harrison is the community director for the Midlands Division of the March of Dimes.