Annual fundraisers are still highly visible ways to engage communities and raise awareness of March of Dimes’ mission.
The March for Babies walks and Signature Chefs events are March of Dimes’ largest fundraisers. Entire communities rally around these popular events, including former patients and NICU graduates, says Kristen, who also serves as chair of the March of Dimes board of directors for South Florida.
“Our hospitals — especially labor and delivery units — get engaged in fundraising and walking in their local March for Babies events,” she says.
According to Kristen, The Woman’s Hospital of Texas, part of HCA Houston Healthcare, has always been one of the largest hospital fundraisers for March of Dimes in the country, especially when it comes to March for Babies, raising over $125,000.
In 2022, HCA Healthcare raised over $550,000 as part of the division and employee contributions.
HCA Healthcare’s East Florida Division, part of HCA Florida Healthcare, encourages its hospitals to use the March for Babies events as an opportunity to reunite NICU babies with their care teams.
“It is so momentous and emotional for the families, the nurses and physicians,” Kristen says. “Sometimes the babies aren’t babies anymore. They come back as healthy kids who have their whole lives ahead of them.”
While March for Babies primarily involves families and hospital staffs, the Signature Chefs events are a fun way to engage key community leaders and donors while highlighting the community’s maternal and infant needs.
For Vanessa Phillips, NICU director at HCA Florida University Hospital, these events remind her of her own story. A NICU survivor herself, she was one of the first Safe Haven infants in 1980. She was in the NICU with only the doctors and nurses who cared for her.
“I was then placed in a foster home where my amazing parents adopted me and picked up where the NICU left off, giving me the gift of love and care,” she says. “Organizations like March of Dimes are near and dear to me, as they provide fighting chances for mothers, fathers and babies, not only for those like myself, but also for better outcomes for families, improving survival rates for infants.”
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