During March of Dimes 75th year, local reflects on its history of giving in Charleston
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes and its efforts to fund research and programs to ensure healthy babies.
If you go
What: “March for Babies Charleston.”When: Saturday. Registration starts at 8 a.m. The 3-mile walk begins at 9 a.m.Where: Cannon Park, 261 Calhoun St., Charleston.How much: Individuals and teams raise money in any amount.More info: www.marchofdimes.com/southcarolina or 571-1776.
And since 1970, the March of Dimes in Charleston has been holding what used to be called “walkathons” to raise money for the cause.
This year, both the first local poster child and the newest ambassador family will play roles, showing their gratitude for what the organization has done for their lives, in its March of Dimes “March for Babies Charleston” that will start with registration at 8 a.m. Saturday in Cannon Park.
Executive Director Meredith Goodwin Repik said she is anticipating 2,000 people in 250 teams for the event. Their goal is $450,000.
In 1970, Cindy Fowler was 3 when she was chosen as the poster child, which later was renamed “ambassador,” for the Charleston Walk America, later renamed March for Babies. She always vied to be national poster child.
When Fowler was 3 months old, doctors discovered she had juvenile malignant fibrosarcoma in her left leg, which they amputated above the knee. The event would set up a lifelong relationship between her and the charity.
“The March of Dimes paid for my artificial legs until I was 18 years old,” says Fowler, now 46 and living in Goose Creek.
For years, she appeared annually on the March of Dimes “Telerama.”
“It was a big part of my life when I was a child because I got to be on TV and my sisters and brother did not,” says Fowler, chuckling.
Through the years, Fowler has continued to show her support for the March of Dimes. On Saturday, her team, named 1970 Poster Child, is walking. As of last week, the team had raised $500.
“I have to give back,” Fowler says. “They gave so much to me for 18 years. It’s nice to give back, even in small ways.”
The March of Dimes remains relevant today, as the Sarah and Wes Linker family can attest.
Two and half years ago, their triplets were born 10 weeks prematurely. Thomas weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces; Kelsey, 3 pounds, 6 ounces; and Easton, a mere 2 pounds, 14 ounces.
As the case with premature babies, they had difficulty breathing and were administered surfactant at birth, a life-saving drug that the March of Dimes helped develop.
The months to come were trying for the first-time parents as the babies had their ups and downs in the Medical University of South Carolina’s neonatal intensive-care unit.
Wes says, “We started parenthood with three, so we didn’t know any better. It was very difficult for us. We’d visit one in the hospital with two at home or vice-versa.”
Sarah, a nurse, recalls there were times they were “terrified, ” but literature in the NICU, also funded by the March of Dimes, often provided them comfort to weather the storm and make the right decisions.
The children are now healthy, happy and energetic.
“Now all we have to worry about is potty training, driving and (paying for) college,” Wes says.
And that’s the way it should be.