March of Dimes

By Kellie Doligale

The March of Dimes needs little introduction. The successful organization has combated infant mortality for just shy of 80 years, “giving every baby a fighting chance,” and proving that no challenge is insurmountable.

Founded in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt with the goal to eradicate polio, the 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 Erika Rohrer, Senior Development Manager for the Greater Louisville 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 of them do not survive past their first birthday. Pre-term birth (defined as birth before 37 weeks gestation) is especially prevalent in the U.S., and the March of Dimes wants to know why.

“Premature birth is the number one cause of death in newborns,” Rohrer explains. “We set out to work on research, education and advocacy. We have five prematurity research centers across the country that use a trans-disciplinary approach, bringing together scientists, educators and researchers working 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 pre-term 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 for Greater Louisville on November 2, support this lofty but 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 Louisville Marriott Downtown, Chef Joshua Moore of Volare will lead a lineup of over 25 local eateries providing delicious food, cocktails and auction packages, all with compassion for the tiniest and most helpless among us.

“Events like the Signature Chefs Auction help fund significant research on a national level, as well as support local programs like CenteringPregnancy and Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait, right here in Louisville,” says Rohrer.

The March of Dimes leaves no stone unturned when it comes to babies in need and their worried parents. “One of our live auction packages will be a NICU holiday dinner. 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 at a really challenging time.” March of Dimes has also established the Mom and Baby Relief Fund to provide aid to families affected by the recent catastrophic hurricanes. “You can go to our web site and donate to support the needs of expectant mothers, infants and children who need day-to-day products like diapers. Babies who were in NICUs in the affected areas have special needs that must be addressed.”

Such is the March of Dimes’ credo. Every baby is deserving of the best care available, and no baby should be lost to preventable causes.

Signature Chefs Auction

November 2, at 6 p.m.

Louisville Marriott Downtown

Purchase tickets or tables: signaturechefs.org/louisville

Discounted Marriott room rates available through October 20.