By Jocelyn Williams, ’13,’15
In the United States, one in nine babies is born prematurely. Many need to spend several weeks or even months in a newborn intensive care unit.
On Saturday, Oct. 4, the St. Bonaventure University community will have the opportunity to team up with local communities to walk for stronger, healthier babies.
St. Bonaventure has partnered with local corporations, including CUTCO and Seneca Resorts & Casinos, for this year’s Western New York March for Babies walk. The 2.6-mile walk begins at 11 a.m. on the campus loop of the Allegheny River Valley Recreation Trail. Registration and money collection begins at 10 a.m. in front of Hickey Dining Hall.
Rick Trietley, vice president of Student Affairs and chair of the March for Babies Olean, expressed the university’s delight to have the opportunity to host the event and serve as an official co-sponsor yet again.
“St. Bonaventure remains honored and proud to support this amazing event for such an important organization as the March of Dimes.” he said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for St. Bonaventure community members to support a worthy cause, to ensure all babies are born healthy and to demonstrate our Franciscan spirit through action.”
Since 1970, the March of Dimes has hosted the March for Babies in 900 communities across the country. The mission is simple: Secure research funding so that, one day, every baby is born healthy.
At the March for Babies Olean Kick-Off Breakfast, Tom Kane, March of Dimes Western New York division director, encouraged everyone to form teams, sign up, set a walker goal, contact sponsors, get out there on Oct. 4 to walk for a good cause and have fun.
“The March of Dimes is the champion for all babies,” Kane said. “March for Babies is an opportunity to get involved in something that makes a vital, tangible difference in peoples’ lives, and it’s something that happens all over America — since 1970. It is the earliest fundraising walk-a-thon to be held in the nation.”
More than 4 million babies were born in the United States last year, and March of Dimes helped each one by providing more than 76 years of research, education and breakthroughs.
Last year, March for Babies Olean walkers raised $52,000. This year, the Western New York chapter of March of Dimes set a goal of raising $57,000 in Olean.
A higher donation goal isn’t the only goal in mind for Trietley. He hopes to encourage more groups of people to participate.
“One of my personal goals this year as chair is to increase the total number of university community walking teams. We have enjoyed great student participation in previous years, and I would like to see us have the same success with staff and faculty participation,” he said.
“Local community members outside of St. Bonaventure are also highly encouraged to participate. I don’t want people in Allegany, Olean and other local communities to believe that only St. Bonaventure students and employees can participate. This event is for everyone.”
The SBU Student Government Association will award grants to the on-campus student groups with the largest donations raised.
“SGA has really taken this on as their No. 1 fundraiser,” said Trietley.
Alex Noguerola, SGA executive board president and a senior political science major from Lowell, Mass., described the grants to be awarded and his thoughts on the event overall.
“This event allows for student organizations to create solidarity within their group for a great cause and helps the university continue to support such a wonderful organization that does and supports important work,” Noguerola said.
“We will be awarding four grants this year: one $500 grant for the student group that raises the most money; and three $250 grants — one for the academic club, social/diversity club, and “Big 4” club (CAB, BV, Buzz and intramurals) that raise the most money.”
Those interested in walking can sign up a team at www.marchforbabies.org. Each walker will have to fill out a personal profile before registering for a team. Each department should first select a captain, who then can create a team for colleagues to join upon registering. Individuals from departments that might have less than five people participating are welcome to join any of the Bonaventure teams.
March for Babies touches and changes lives with every donation made. Eighty-one cents of every dollar raised goes toward research, programs and educational materials, officials say.
For more information or questions, contact March of Dimes Community Director Brittany Lazickas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (716) 583-9527.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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