March of Dimes event falls short

WALK-A-THON DAMPENED

April 27, 1992|By Patrick Ercolano | Patrick Ercolano,Staff Writer

To some people, walking in the rain is romantic. To others, it's invigorating.

To Tom Wargin, it's "yucko."

"I looked out my window when I got up [yesterday] morning, and I saw all that rain and thought, 'Oh, yucko,' " said the 52-year-old Parkville resident.

Of course, Mr. Wargin faced more than a brief stroll amid the raindrops. He was among some 3,000 people who trucked 15 miles through the muck and the yuck yesterday in the 22nd annual Baltimore March of Dimes Walk-A-Thon.

Ranging from grade schoolers to gray-haired seniors, the walkers raised $362,200 in pledges for the organization's "Campaign for Healthier Babies," which provides community-based services for the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality.

Yesterday's Baltimore-Baltimore County walk began at Memorial Stadium and looped north to Towson and then looped south to the finish line back at the stadium.

Most walkers started the trek between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and were finished about five hours later.

Walkers took part in three other March of Dimes events yesterday -- in Bel Air, Westminster and Annapolis. A fourth walk-a-thon was conducted in Columbia Saturday. Each drew much smaller crowds than the Baltimore event.

Jim Donovan, the director of the March of Dimes' Baltimore chapter, said that combined, the five walks drew a total of 4,360 walkers and $475,200 in pledged contributions.

"All told, that's about half of the number of walkers we were expecting, and half of the money we had hoped to bring in," said March of Dimes spokeswoman Abbey Lazarus.

"We're asking people who didn't do the walk to collect their pledges anyway and send them in," Ms. Lazarus added.

The gentle rain that fell all morning not only kept people away, it also seemed to douse the enthusiasm of many who made the hike. But, as Mr. Wargin pointed out, the day wasn't a complete washout.

"I can't give lots of money to charity, but I can do this," he said.

Donna Williams of Joppa pulled her 5-year-old daughter, Becki, along the route in a wagon. Ms. Williams, 38, seemed fresh as a daisy in a spring shower at the midway point, at Towson State University.

"Last year, I pushed both Becki and my 7-month-old son in a double stroller," said Ms. Williams, who was taking part in her sixth March of Dimes Walk-a-Thon.

"I do it because it's fun, because I have two healthy babies, and I like to do what I can to see that other mothers have healthy babies, too," she added.

Cynthia and Nikki Minor of Woodlawn formed another mother-daughter team.

The Minors have done four walk-a-thons together, said the mother, who added, "We do it to help babies."

"And to punish me," said Nikki, 14, who complained of a sore ankle.

Her mother laughed, saying, "She's still a little young to fully appreciate what this is about."

Yesterday's heroes and heroines also included some 500 volunteers who aided walkers at the five checkpoints, stamping pledge sheets, handing out refreshments and offering cheers and applause.

John Brittingham, 63, has been involved as a walker or a checkpoint captain since 1971, when he made the first walk-a-thon with his son and two daughters.

Yesterday he helped operate the checkpoint at Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway. He was assisted by his son, Robert.

"I love to chip in on these civic causes," said Mr. Brittingham, a Medfield Heights resident. "I belong to the Masons and the Tall Cedars. I've donated 12 gallons of blood in my lifetime. I like to help out, and [the walk-a-thon] is an easy way to do it."

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