Manila Middle School students walk for babies

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Manila Middle Future Business Leaders of America held the annual March of Dimes Walk-a-Thon recently as the students assembled for the cause.

Manila Middle School FBLA sponsored a Walk for Babies.

Students, teachers, and staff placed their donations in a baby car seat as they arrived.

Heath Hawkins, Middle School FBLA adviser, welcomed guest speaker, Brittney Johnson, community director for the March of Dimes.

LeeAnn Helms, Middle School principal, spoke to the students praising them for their help.

"Your help makes me proud," Helms said. "There is no where better to be than Manila Middle School."

There are numbers of people affected by the March of Dimes and Ms. Helms shared her own personal story with the students.

"I was a premature baby," she said. "I was born a month early. When I turned 30 my brother shared with me his thoughts as a 10 year old boy when I was born. He said who would have thought the baby no one expected to live and grow up would someday be a middle school principal."

Mr. Hawkins also shared his personal story about his cousin (now 30) who was born, the smallest premature baby ever, weighing one pound.

"It was a long stay in the hospital," he said. "My family couldn't afford the bill but the March of Dimes was there and helped."

Johnson shared information with the students about the March of Dimes.

"The March of Dimes organization has been around for 75 years," she said. "It was organized by President Roosevelt who was a victim of polio."

She told the students that polio was conquered and the March of Dimes went on to help save premature babies. Some of the accomplishments include a surfactant therapy, a spray that will help babies lungs; frolic acid education; and newborn screening.

"Babies can be tested for 31 diseases now," she said. "We have 29 approved in Arkansas and we are working on getting the other two. Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature births, and infant mortality."

She informed the students that each state is rated on premature births and she compared the rating to the grades students get.

"The state of Arkansas has a D," she said. "We are working to improve that grade. Every baby is born to do something great."

Jimmy Puckett, middle school teacher, shared her story of her son being born at 37 weeks.

"It was scary but we were blessed," she said. "Next to our baby, there were babies born at 30 weeks and we could really see the difference seven weeks can make. Our son did not have to stay nearly as long as some did. The nurses are fantastic. The medical expense for premature babies is huge. The March of Dimes helps with that."

She went on to praise the March of Dimes and the students for their support.

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