Clowns lend noses to campaign against crib death

April 03, 1993|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,Staff Writer

As the Patriot pulled into Pennsylvania Station yesterday morning, about a dozen children and adults and a man in a bird suit stood on the train platform wearing red plastic clown noses.

"Excuse me," one of the red-nosed women said to a conductor. "Where's Bozo?"

Suddenly, the famous clown emerged from the rear of the train. He smiled, said hello, laughed his goofy Bozo laugh and shook hands with the Orioles mascot. The adults removed their plastic noses to shoot pictures; the children smiled and giggled.

The upbeat gathering was part of a nationwide campaign to raise consciousness and funds to understand a dispiriting phenomenon: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), or crib death.

The syndrome claims as many as 7,000 babies in the United States each year without warning, according to government figures. There are no symptoms or known causes.

Baltimore was one of about 2,000 cities across the nation where volunteers distributed and sold red noses to draw attention to the problem. The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance in Columbia organized the event to help fund medical research.

Last year, the alliance raised $500,000 by selling red noses for $2 each in 200 cities across the country. Alliance spokeswoman Phipps Cohe said the group hoped to raise $2 million this year.

Volunteers distributed noses inside Camden Yards yesterday at the Orioles exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In Chicago, employees at more than 200 Walgreen's pharmacies wore red noses and sold them to customers. Red noses were also available at Suzuki motorcycle dealerships in Dade County, Fla., and 60 King Soopers supermarkets across Colorado, Ms. Cohe said.

A red nose has no connection to sudden infant death syndrome; it's just a good way to get attention.

"The beauty of the red nose is it breaks down the barriers," Ms. Cohe said. "For us, it's becoming a symbol of hope."

The alliance got the idea from successful campaigns in Britain and Australia, where volunteers raised $6 million for SIDS research earlier this year.

Two of the people wearing red noses on the train platform yesterday were Richard and Ann Dake of Timonium. They lost their grandson, Andrew, to the syndrome in 1991.

It was an incredible shock, Mr. Dake said. "You recover, but you lose a little of yourself."

"Now that the immediacy is over," said Mrs. Dake, "you want to do something to prevent it."

After a few minutes, a conductor yelled, "All aboard." Bozo slipped back onto the train and headed north to greet more groups of red-nosed people at 10 station stops on the way to Boston.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.