In 1938, March of Dimes was founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one who had personally struggled with polio. The national foundation is a nonprofit organization that used donations to fund vaccine research and effectively end the epidemic of polio.
Now, the foundation focuses on preventing birth defects, primarily premature births, before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed.
Discovering the genetic causes of these birth defects, the March of Dimes promotes newborn screening and the education of healthy pregnancy to prevent infant mortality. The cause has now found its way to Florida Gulf Coast University. On Nov. 15-17, March of Dimes will be hosting its 13th annual Bikers for Babies.
Nov. 15 activities include live music and food. A car show will be taking place on Nov. 16. Nov. 17, motorcyclists from all over the area will be participating in a 40-mile ride through the beaches of Bonita and Fort Myers. All these fun events are all to support March of Dimes research.
The motorcyclists will meet at Naples Harley-Davidson, and the ride will end at the Harley-Davidson of Fort Myers.
FGCU senior Claudia Maturell started involvement with March of Dimes through her nonprofit class. She is a communication major with a focus in public relations. As her relationship grew with the March of Dimes staff, she received an internship.
“I think they’re doing a great thing. I don’t see many other organizations that look to help babies like they do,” Maturell said.
Chairwoman for the event, Elizabeth Sterchi-Skotzke, worked with the Bikers for Babies committee and Maturell to not only bring awareness, but to have fun while doing it.
“You do not need a bike. The event is free to everyone,” Maturell said. FGCU students, friends and family are encouraged to come out and simply enjoy themselves. “It’s an amazing sight,” said Chelsea O’Keefe, who is Maturell’s supervisor.
The last day of the event, around 1,500 motorcyclists will be participating in the ride.
“It is the only police-escorted ride in the east region,” O’Keefe said. The March of Dimes committee in Fort Myers hopes that FGCU students will come out and participate. “We really want the campus to get more involved with our cause,” O’Keefe shared how it is not only going to be a fun time, but that it is an opportune networking experience. Sponsors and vendors from all over the southwest area will be attending. While the March of Dimes staff is hoping everyone will have a great experience, they also emphasize that it is for a good cause.
Premature births are the no. 1 cause of death during the first month of life. Babies who live are usually faced with birth defects and lifelong disabilities.
Donations given to the March of Dimes organization go directly to families in need. The foundation also looks to reach out to lower-class and rural families where resources may not readily available. They provide these families with educational materials such as videos, brochures and classes.
Want to get involved with March of Dimes? Contact Chelsea O’Keefe: [email protected]