Walkers on path to helping infants

Events raise $600,000, March of Dimes says

April 26, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Sitting in a stroller, 1-year-old Hannah chewed on a chocolate chip cookie as her mother pushed her toward the starting line. Hannah smiled.

Her mother, Meghan Lyons, smiled back. The whole family, dad included, was enjoying the brisk morning and about to embark on an eight-mile walk and roll to raise $135 for the March of Dimes.

"We want to do something to help the babies," said Lyons, 29, who is expecting a child in December. "I've always felt really blessed to have a healthy child."

Yesterday morning, about 2,000 people gathered at Towson University in Baltimore County to walk for the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that funds research and programs to prevent birth defects and infant mortality.

March of Dimes organizers staged simultaneous walks in Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford and Carroll counties. Through the five events, they estimated that more than $600,000 would be raised through pledges and other donations.

"We're ecstatic about the results," said Juliet Sarau, director of development for the March of Dimes Central Maryland Chapter. "It's a great day for studying and researching for preventing birth defects."

At Towson, people milled about, wearing spandex and sweat shirts, eating cookies, bagels and sipping coffee set out for participants. Mothers and fathers towed children in wagons and strollers.

Wearing a gray sweat suit, Malicia Joyner, 19, said she felt she was contributing to the community and helping others, though she didn't know how much she or her fellow Morgan State University students had raised.

"This is our first time getting involved," said Joyner, who is majoring in social work. "We love kids. I love kids."

Lori Ciszek, 29, and four co-workers at Cigna HealthCare raised $800 by holding small events. During one, their managers raced around the office putting diapers on baby dolls and then dressing them. "We raised $60 doing that," Ciszek said.

Melinda Condray, 49, was walking with her brown-and-white dog, Quasar. It was Quasar raising the money -- $174 in pledges that Condray said were made in the dog's name.

She was just holding the leash.

One note of discord sounded -- high overhead. About 8 a.m., as the walk was beginning, an airplane began circling, towing a banner. Many on the ground ignored it, and thought it was a banner supporting the March of Dimes.

But the banner read: "March of Dimes: Stop Animal Experiments."

The message was sent aloft by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit group whose literature describes it as promoting preventive medicine and higher standards in research.

"All I saw was March of Dimes," Condray said. "I didn't see the rest of the sign. No, it's not very effective."

Pub Date: 4/26/99

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