Throughout this spring, the Ross Medical Education Center campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan collected change for the Ann Arbor Area March of Dimes. According to the March of Dimes website, the organization began with President Franklin Roosevelt’s personal struggle with polio which led him to create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Better known as the March of Dimes, the foundation established a polio patient aid program and funded research for vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, MD and Albert Sabin, MD. These vaccines helped to bring an end to the polio epidemic in the United States.
After fulfilling their original mission, the organization turned all of its attention to the fight to prevent birth defects and infant mortality. Since that time, the March of Dimes has led the way to finding some of the genetic causes of birth defects as well as educating the public on the importance of newborn screening.
Additionally, they have helped to educate medical professionals and others about the important best practice tips for a healthy pregnancy. They have also supported various research efforts and were a part of beginning the regional neonatal intensive care system for premature and sick babies. Their Folic Acid Campaign helped to bring about a dramatic reduction in the incidence of neural tube defects.
Beginning in 2003, a major part of their fight to save babies has been the Prematurity Campaign. They saw that there was an increase in the incidences of premature birth and they wanted to do something about it! So, they have created a multi-year campaign to raise awareness and increase research to discover the causes of prematurity and help mothers and babies to experience longer, healthier pregnancies and lives.
As aspiring medical and dental healthcare professionals, the Ross Ann Arbor students wanted to help. Students and staff collected dimes and other change during the campus-wide effort. They then invited March of Dimes Community Director Laurie Revere to their campus to receive the funds.
At the campus, Laurie shared information about the March of Dimes with the students and staff. She opened with an interesting question, “how many of you are March of Dimes Babies?” Only a few of the staff raised their hands. Laurie told the students they were all March of Dimes babies because they all received the Polio vaccines which were funded by the March of Dimes.
She then told the crowd that Michigan has over 200 premature babies born each week and the March of Dimes is working to provide funding for prenatal care for expectant mothers. Kathleen Bennett, instructor of the Medical Assistant program, asked “what volunteer opportunities are available for our students?” Laurie told the students about the upcoming walk at Hudson Mills Metro Park, and Sarah Ledesma, instructor in the Dental Assistant program, and Medical Assistant Instructor Kathleen Bennett organized a team. Students and staff loved being a part of another March of Dimes event!