March of Dimes hoping to break record at this year's March for Babies


Published: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 6:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2012 at 10:42 p.m.

North Central Florida's residents already give more to the March of Dimes than in any other region of the country, but the local chapter is challenging the community to give even more.

Last year, the annual March for Babies raised $780,000, and this year the chapter is looking to surpass the $800,000 mark, it was announced this week.

"Certainly, as our veteran teams are working and raising money from this point forward, it's also a great time for a family or business who have never participated in the past to get on board," said Betsy Trent, executive director for the Gainesville chapter of the March of Dimes.

The walk, held each year in late March, has historically drawn more than 6,000 walkers each time, Trent said. This year's event will be an 8.6-mile walk, starting at Westwood Middle School, 3215 NW 15th Ave., at 7 a.m. on March 24.

People wanting to get involved can visit marchforbabies.org, check out the Facebook page or go retro and call 378-9522.

Trent said that when the amount of discretionary income in Gainesville is measured, compared with what is given to support the research to save premature babies, no other community has given so generously to the March of Dimes' mission. Jennifer Hagenbuch, chairwoman of the fundraising drive, said she thinks the local community is so generous because the medical miracles that the walk helps support are so apparent here.

Hagenbuch, community bank president for Wells Fargo in this area, said her life was touched by the research that the March of Dimes has sponsored — it saved the life of one of her twin babies who was born prematurely 15 years ago.

"Without it, my daughter would not have survived," she said. "Of course I'm going to give back to an organization that's done so much for my family."

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