Hundreds march on Suffolk

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Residents in the Riverview and surrounding communities woke up to see their street flooded with hundreds of people Saturday morning.

Beginning and ending at Constant’s Wharf Marina and walking through neighborhoods and downtown, more than 300 marchers took to the streets in support of the March of Dimes.

“Despite the hard times and a little rain, the people in Suffolk have remained consistent in their support of our mission,” said Kristin French, an administrator with March of Dimes. “What was most encouraging was seeing all the families that came out on Saturday. There were so many parents there with their kids, pushing strollers. It was great to see those who have been affected by our mission.”

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March of Dimes is a non-profit organization aimed at improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Donations fund research and education to help babies fight the threats to their health.

The organization’s research has gone to save the lives of at least two local girls, Callen Pabis and Virginia Hughes. Both girls led the March of Dimes with their parents Saturday.

“Without [March of Dimes’ research], Virginia wouldn’t be here,” Virginia’s mother Erin Hughes said.

Virginia was born premature at 23 weeks old, but due to her “feisty spirit” and medications and medical techniques from March of Dimes research she is now almost three years old with limited side effects from her early birth.

Each year, French said the march draws between 300 and 400 marchers to the streets. The marchers raise money to participate in the event.

While numbers for each locality will not be in for a few months, French said, the Hampton Roads area raised approximately $500,000 over the weekend. Suffolk’s march is one of the 12 held throughout the year.

At the march, Tara Moore, a March of Dimes organizer, estimated the march raised about $27,000, excluding online and day-of donations.

“The mission is still important to people,” French said. “It’s important to people and the community to find a cure for premature birth.”