WILLIAMSTOWN -About 200 parents, family members, friends and children of all ages walked three miles through Williamstown from Tomlinson Park on Saturday as they participated in the Mid-Ohio Valley March of Dimes annual March for Babies.
The event raised $50,000 for the March of Dimes, which uses the funds for research and development of medications and medical techniques to aid prematurely born babies, said Sandy Vredingburgh, community director for the northern division of the March of Dimes.
"The people who work all year long to raise the money are just wonderful," Vredingburgh said.
About 200 people participated in the Mid-Ohio Valley March of Dimes annual March for Babies in Willi
The highest fundraising team in West Virginia was recognized for contributing more than $24,000 this year. Team Cunningham includes husband and wife Bob and Gwynne Cunningham, their son, Matthew Cunningham, 8, and their friends and family. Matthew Cunningham raised $105 on his own this year for the team.
The family heads up not only the number one team in the state, but one of the top 10 fundraising March of Dimes teams in the country, Vredingburgh said.
"They spend their life, year round, fundraising and many of the grants awarded throughout West Virginia happen with their help," she said.
About 200 people participated in the Mid-Ohio Valley March of Dimes annual March for Babies in Williamstown’s Tomlinson Park to celebrate and remember babies who were born premature on Saturday. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Gwynne Cunningham said they have raised more than $158,000 in the past eight years, since their son Matthew was born healthy at 10 pounds.
"He was healthy, but I lost several babies before him and we have been fundraising for the March of Dimes for the past 20 years," she said. "If I can do this and have one mother not go through what I did, I've done a good job."
Bob Cunningham, who is a member of the state board for the March of Dimes, said he became involved to support his wife and their team has grown beyond their imaginations.
"It's not just an event for us," he said. "We do it all year, every year and we will do anything we can to raise a nickel and a dime to save a baby's life."
In the United States, one in eight babies is born prematurely and in West Virginia that number is one in seven, Vredingburgh said.
"They are born too early, too soon and often with problems that they need help with," she said. "Today is a day of celebration of those children and those families."