March of Dimes needs little introduction. Celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2018, the organization leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies.
Founded in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt with the goal of eradicating polio, March of Dimes has since funded prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome, elimination of rubella, gene sequencing to diagnose, prevent or treat birth defects and even Apgar scoring – a standard screening measure used by modern clinicians worldwide to summarize a newborn’s health.
“We like to say that everyone is a March of Dimes baby, even if you were born healthy, because everyone is affected for the better by our contributions,” says Carolyn Harper, senior development manager for the Greater Louisville March of Dimes market.
In 2003, the bar was set even higher to address one of healthcare’s most tragic statistics: every year, approximately 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, and 1 million do not survive past their first birthday. Preterm birth (defined as birth before 37 weeks gestation) is especially prevalent in the U.S., and March of Dimes wants to know why.
“Moms and babies in the U.S. are facing an urgent health crisis,” Harper explains. “We fund research, educate moms to help them have the healthiest pregnancies possible and advocate for policies that prioritize the health of moms and babies. We have five prematurity research centers across the country that use a transdisciplinary approach, bringing together scientists, educators and researchers working together to find the causes of premature birth and how to prevent it. They especially look at factors that are hard or impossible to control, like genetics, ethnicity and working conditions.”
By narrowing down which factors may be more likely to cause preterm delivery, obstetric healthcare providers are better able to educate, monitor and treat their expecting patients. While an exact cause of premature birth is difficult to pin down, each evidence-based finding can help another baby thrive.
Fundraising events like the upcoming Signature Chefs Auction on Nov. 8 support this invaluable objective and give contributors a culinary occasion to remember. A city like Louisville, now recognized as a destination for great food lovers, provides an enticing list of participating restaurants. At the Omni Hotel, Chef Joshua Moore of Volare, in his 11th year as lead chef of the event, will present chefs from more than 25 local eateries preparing delicious food, cocktails and auction packages, all with compassion for the tiniest and most helpless among us.
This year’s Ambassador Family is Kelsey Petrino-Scott, University of Louisville football Coach LD Scott and their four children, all of whom were born prematurely. “It’s important to have an organization like March for Dimes working to prevent babies from being born too soon in the first place, but also working to help advance the care they receive after they are born, as well,” says Petrino-Scott. “It’s an honor to serve as the Ambassador Family for this year’s event and to do my part to help support their mission. I’ve personally been a longtime supporter of March of Dimes.”
“Events like the Signature Chefs Auction help fund significant research on a national level, as well as support local programs right here in Louisville like CenteringPregnancy and Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait,” says Harper.
March of Dimes leaves no stone unturned when it comes to babies in need and their worried parents. “One of our live auction packages again this year will be a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) holiday dinner,” says Harper. “We’re teaming up with Texas Roadhouse to go into a local NICU during the holiday season to provide meals to parents who are often forgotten. It’s a nice way to show we’re thinking about them during a really challenging time.”
Such is the March of Dimes’ credo. Every baby deserves the best possible start, and when a community supports every family, the future is brighter for us all. VT
Signature Chefs Auction
6 p.m. Nov. 8
Purchase tickets or tables: signaturechefs.org/louisville. Tickets must be purchased prior to event.