GUILFORD - The annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica event for the Penquis region is scheduled this year for Sunday, April 27, in Guilford. This 3-mile walk has been held locally every year since 1975 and is one of two dozen planned throughout Maine to raise funds for March of Dimes' programs that save babies from birth defects, pre-term labor and low birthweight.
Last year's event had 70 walkers in Guilford and raised $5,309 to help the March of Dimes, both through pledges made to walkers and from corporate sponsorships. The walk begins at 1 p.m. at the United Methodist Church, continues through Guilford streets, and ends back at the church, where refreshments are available and prizes awarded.
The focus of March of Dimes fundraising this year is premature birth. The rate of premature births in America has increased to the point where 11.9% of births were premature in 2001. In Maine, our prematurity rate increased by 25% from 1990 to 2000. Premature babies are much more likely to have long-term issues with learning disabilities, lung infections, blindness and cerebral palsy. The March of Dimes funds research to discover the reasons for premature birth.
The honorary chairman for this year's WalkAmerica event is John McKusick of McKusick Petroleum Co. People interested into participating in WalkAmerica on April 27 are encouraged to contact McKusick at 564-2355, Judy Folsom at Key Bank in Guilford, 876-3322, or Tom Lizotte at Mayo Regional Hospital, 564-4342.
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