Pearson Partners in the Community – March of Dimes
Pearson Partners believes in giving back to the community, and we encourage our team members to be involved in charitable organizations. Robyne Petersen, our principal, is a member of the March for Babies Chairman’s Committee, a fundraising arm of the March of Dimes, and is passionate about its mission.
We spoke with Robyne about the organization’s vital role in improving the health of babies and supporting families when something goes wrong.
What is the overall mission of the March of Dimes?
The March of Dimes supports lifesaving research and programs that save babies born prematurely or with birth defects.
These prenatal education programs have been shown to significantly improve birth outcomes. Of the 7,723 babies born each year in Texas, a little over 1,000 are born preterm—that’s nearly 1 in 8 babies. Preventing premature birth could mean not just an enormous reduction in neonatal care costs (over $3 billion annually in Texas alone), but more importantly, saving thousands of lives every year.
The annual March for Babies walk on April 12, 2014, raises money for the March of Dimes to reduce the number of babies born prematurely by extending women’s pregnancies to at least 39 weeks, to reduce the number of neonatal intensive care admissions.
What is the history of the organization, and how and why was it formed?
March of Dimes was originally established by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to fight polio. President Roosevelt’s personal struggle led him to create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, today known as the March of Dimes. The immediate task in 1938 was to build an organization that could quickly respond to polio epidemics anywhere in the nation. The polio vaccine was invented and administered in the late 1950s, which led to the decline in polio from tens of thousands of new cases per year to a mere handful.
In 1958, the foundation’s new mission became the prevention of birth defects and infant mortality. It became apparent that these conditions were linked to the medical, socioeconomic and epidemiological circumstances during pregnancy itself. In the past 25 years, the country’s premature birth rate has risen more than 36 percent. To better study the causes of prematurity and raise awareness for this alarming statistic, the March of Dimes launched the Prematurity Campaign in 2003.
What would you say have been the overall results so far of the organization, and can you give an example of a project you’ve done or the ways you have impacted the community?
Since I joined in September 2013, the 2014 March for Babies Chairman’s Committee—a major fundraising arm of the organization—has raised $112,000 through walking teams and corporate donations.
How has your involvement enriched your life, both personally and professionally? How has the organization helped you expand your business network?
I’ve never had a preemie, but being able to help these families has been a very moving experience. At a recent committee meeting, we met a family whose premature baby was in the hospital for 121 days, and at this coming April 2014 walk he will be three years old. Without the assistance of the March of Dimes, the family’s struggle could have been much worse. The work this organization does is wonderful.
The Chairman’s Committee is a diverse group of men and women, including parents and others who have been directly affected. This is an issue for everyone, as we have all either had a baby or been a baby. I have enjoyed expanding my business network by working with other organizations through the March of Dimes.
What are the factors limiting the March of Dimes in terms of its ability to do more for our community?
Mainly, it’s a matter of awareness. If a person hasn’t been directly impacted by a premature birth, it’s hard to realize the financial and emotional impact on these families. Efforts like our annual March for Babies walk help to get that awareness out there. People can help the most by spreading the word and getting involved.
What is the best way to get involved with the organization? What other information would you like to share with our readers?
The annual March for Babies walk will be held on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Norbuck Park at White Rock Lake in Dallas. If you are interested in being a corporate sponsor, making a donation or creating a team for the walk, please call Robyne Petersen at 214.292.4172, or visit www.marchforbabies.org/robynepetersen.