March of Dimes to hold walk for birth defects

By Lesley Rogers

NIU students and DeKalb County residents have the opportunity to have fun and get some exercise while raising money to prevent birth defects.

The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation is holding the 1993 WalkAmerica on Sunday, April 25.

In the Northern Illinois area, WalkAmerica will take place along five different 20 kilometer routes and involve an expected 1,400 walkers. The DeKalb starting point is at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Rd.

Walkers raise money through sponsor forms which ask people to pledge money for each kilometer completed. Individuals or teams representing their company, club or organization can walk.

“We encourage teams of people to walk together. It’s more fun to do the walk-a-thon as a group,” said Sukey Blake, DeKalb County WalkAmerica chair. “Anyone can get together and be a team.”

The goal of March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects and infant mortality.

“Prenatally they do things, they educate and try to get healthy kids brought into this world and they help afterwards when they’re not,” Blake said.

Blake became involved in March of Dimes 11 years ago and has been serving as WalkAmerica coordinator for the past three years.

“I was so lucky to have two perfectly healthy babies, and I wanted to be involved with people that try to prevent illness and birth defects, and that is the March of Dimes,” Blake said. “Not everyone is as lucky as my family.”

WalkAmerica is the perfect opportunity to get involved in the community, raise money and group morale and get in some exercise at the same time, Blake said.

“March of Dimes walk-a-thon directly helps DeKalb County. There are grants that can be obtained. The County Health Center has gotten grants in the past for doing prenatal work,” Blake said.

The DeKalb County Viet Now Chapter has been involved in WalkAmerica since it started in the area.

“March of Dimes walk-a-thon has become a tradition with our chapter,” said John Davis, president of DeKalb County Viet Now. “We started out with a small team to walk and every year our participation grows.”

Viet Now members will be walking and volunteering throughout various parts of the walk.

“Those members that are unable to walk or don’t want to always help out handing out water or registering walkers,” Davis said.

“We call it community involvement, just to help others,” Davis said. “We like to get involved in the causes of others.”

Volunteers always are needed for the walk. “If you don’t want to walk, volunteers are needed along the route and resting stations,” Blake said. “These are perfect opportunities for students to get into volunteering.”

“I would love to see more college students come out and walk. I would love to see people band together to support March of Dimes,” Blake said.

Sponsor forms are available at WDEK and K-Mart Discount Stores, 2700 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore or by contacting the Northern Illinois March of Dimes Division at (815)397-0097.