By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
The March of Dimes March for Babies will take place at Bonita Lakes Recreation Park Saturday, June 8.
Organizers decided to move up the date this year for the event that has taken place in October in past years.
"We listened to the community and everybody kept saying you are in the midst of seven walks in a thirteen week period," said Lea Banks, March of Dimes community director for Mississippi. "June seemed to be the perfect time. The kids are out of school and there is far more time for families to get involved. March of Dimes is about moms and babies. I want moms and babies to be able to be there."
Banks hopes the new time will boost participation. There is still time, she said, for people to get involved.
Local businesses, organizations, families and individuals are encouraged to form teams and conduct fundraisers prior to the walk. For those who can't form a team, donations are welcome, organizers said.
"There is no amount of money they have to raise," Banks said. "It's whatever they want to do."
All proceeds will go to support local programs that help moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies, and it funds research to find answers to health problems that threaten babies.
Formerly known as WalkAmerica, March for Babies is the March of Dimes signature fundraiser and takes place in communities all across America.
The Bonita Lakes event kicks off at about 9 a.m. Tentative plans call for a children's walk around the lower lake at about 10 p.m.
This year marks the March of Dimes 75th anniversary. Banks said the June 8 event will include a celebration after the walk, with live music and children's games.
Volunteers and sponsors are still needed to provide the entertainment, Banks said.
"I want it where people don't just leave at the end of the walk, so there is reason to stay there at beautiful Bonita Lakes, so we can have a day together until 2 p.m.," Banks said.
The presenting sponsor for this year's event is Dr. Elizabeth Trest, with Meridian OB/GYN. Other sponsors are Lockheed Martin, Wells Fargo and Best Buy.
To volunteer or help sponsor the event, call Banks at 601-292-6661 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register you walk team at www.marchforbabies.org.