Walking for March of Dimes

Volunteers/Where good neighbors get together

October 15, 1991|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,Evening Sun Staff

VOLUNTEERS to the March of Dimes are planning a walk from 7 to 10 a.m. on Sunday at Canton Waterfront Park in the hope of raising funds which were lost this year on the April 14 walk when temperatures dropped to 30 degrees with wet and rainy conditions.

''The awful weather brought out about 7,000 of the 20,000 registered,'' says Michael Gahagan, director of development. ''We raised $600,000, which was about $300,000 away from our goal.''

This Sunday's 6-mile walk begins and ends at the park, which is on Boston Street in Fells Point, and walkers will wind through Highlandtown and Fells Point. Register at the park on Sunday or in advance by calling 752-7990.

Preventing birth defects is what the March of Dimes is all about. Volunteers and marchers have helped support the organization since it was founded in 1938. There are 132 chapters around the country. The Baltimore chapter of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation headquarters is at 814 Light St. in suite 213. National headquarters is in White Plains, N.Y.

One avid and faithful volunteer is Dr. Phillip Goldstein, who came to Baltimore in 1975 and immediately volunteered to the Professional Advisory Committee of the March of Dimes, in which he remains active.

Goldstein, involved with the treatment of women in high-risk pregnancies, is Obstetrician/Gynecologist-in-Chief at Sinai Hospital and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Goldstein says he began volunteering to the March of Dimes when he was a college student in St. Louis in 1955. ''That was the year of the announcement of the Salk vaccine and I'll always remember that my fraternity featured the March of Dimes walk that year without recognizing the discovery. In time, the March of Dimes began to focus on the prevention of all birth defects other than just those defects associated with infections,'' he says.

The Baltimore advisory committee, he says, is made up of all volunteer nurses, physicians, social workers, health educators and others who review and award the grants, raise funds and offer community service projects, making a commitment to the birth of healthy babies.

Birth defects can be caused by premature delivery or they may be genetic. They can include cystic fibrosis, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, spina bifida, body organs that do not function properly, congenital heart disorders and more.

Along with serving on the advisory committee, Goldstein is also chairman of the board. ''I would say emeritus, but my wife Sharon, who is president of the board of Young Audiences Inc., doesn't like the word emeritus,'' he says with a chuckle.

Highlights for walkers on Sunday include a place to picnic along the Canton waterfront, free Tombstone Pizza, Pepsi, Entenmann's treats and 7-Eleven coffee. Also, after the walk there will be many giveaways. Parking is easy. And radio station B-104 will broadcast live from 6 a.m. to noon.

The March of Dimes Baltimore chapter director is James F. Donovan. To volunteer to the chapter, call Michael Gahagan, 752-7990.

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