Chill and rain cut number of marchers in Walk-a-thon About 7,300 hike to raise $766,000 for charity.

April 15, 1991|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Evening Sun Staff

Neither cold nor damp. . . .

Participants in the March of Dimes Walk-a-thon may have voiced their own version of the postman's credo yesterday as cold and damp weather dogged their every step.

Nevertheless, Alveria Kellam, 62, and her spunky 5-year-old grandson, Michael, finished their first walk-a-thon.

"Too long," complained the kindergartner.

"Really cold," said the grandmother, after finishing the two-mile Senior Stroll, the route circling Lake Montebello.

"I'm going to get a ride home," she said.

Because of the chilly weather and rain, many walkers stayed away this year, but more than 7,300 others braved the elements to raise $766,000 for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, according to Abbey Lazurus, a walk-a-thon coordinator.

"We should have been so lucky to have a heat stroke," said Lazurus, referring to past years when the weather was warm and ailments suffered by walkers were heat-related. She reported no weather-related injuries this year.

"It was so cold and the weather was so bad," she said. "I think it was remarkable that more than 7,000 people came."

Last year, more than 13,000 people showed up to raise $922,000 in pledges, Lazurus said.

The 21st annual walk-a-thon began at Memorial Stadium, as usual, but weaved through parts of Baltimore County for the first time. Participants walked past Towson State University, down Hillen Road, Goucher Boulevard and Loch Raven Boulevard before ending at Memorial Stadium.

Although last year's walk-a-thon was marred by gangs who taunted walkers as they went through certain parts of the city, Lazurus said the route change was not in response to that incident.

"We wanted something new and something scenic," she said. "The route changes a lot. The county was willing to cooperate with us, and we took advantage of it."

Also new this year was the length of the route, which was reduced from 22 miles to 15 miles at the request of team walkers and corporate teams, Lazurus said.

Michael and Nancy Myers pushed their children Michael, 3, and Shawn, 10 months, in a stroller and kept their Great Dane "Trump" on a leash as they completed the two-mile Buggy Brigade around Lake Montebello. They completed their walk in about an hour.

"We came early to beat the crowd and the weather," said Nancy Myers, 23, who lives in the northeastern part of the city.

She said her friends did not participate because of the weather, so husband Michael, 24, substituted.

Eunice Robinson, 65, and her friend, Mary Anderson, 67, were among the walkers. "It's good exercise and it keeps the weight down," said Robinson, a retired Westinghouse Corp. employee.

For Anderson, it was her first walk. She said she regularly cared for babies with birth defects when she worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Many of her patients were newborns with special problems and Down's syndrome.

"I want to tell mothers to emphasize prenatal care, the most important care they can give to their babies," said Anderson, a retired registered nurse. "Love your babies before they're born."

At Memorial Stadium, Heidi Skidmore, 16, from North Harford High School, limped to the finish line after completing the 15-mile walk. She carried a raincoat, wore a sweat suit, dirtied a white sock and got a blister. "It was fun," she said.

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