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Okinawa service members, families brave weather, break record to save babies
Despite rainy weather, military families come out to march during the second annual March of Dimes, March for Babies event on Kadena Air Base, March 31, 2012. Kadena raised more than $50,000 in support of finding cures for infant mortality rates and helping mothers have full-term pregnancies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Beers/Released)
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Okinawa service members, families brave weather, break record to save babies

Posted 4/3/2012   Updated 4/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Brooke P. Beers
18th Wing Public Affairs

4/3/2012 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Despite a seemingly torrential rain storm, more than 400 Kadena Airmen and their families showed up March 31, at Kadena's Risner Fitness Center to show their support and raise a record breaking $50,000 for the March of Dimes, March for Babies event.

This amount not only doubled what was raised last year, but this is the most money ever raised by a non-professionally organized (March of Dimes) walk according to Illinois March of Dimes communication director Jeri Bingham, who flew to Okinawa for the event.

The event in the U.S. has been around since 1970, but this is just the second year the event is conducted at a location outside the U.S. With persistence, event organizers Tracy Mueller and Kimberly Spath brought the March for Dimes event to Okinawa.

"One would wonder how marching for babies effects mission readiness. It's really quite simple," said Brig. Gen. Matthew Molloy, 18th Wing commander. "It's mission first, but the elemental fundamental of that mission first equation is people always. It's investing in our future and that's why this is important."

Highlighting that importance at the event was a "Wall of Honor" that displayed photos of the many babies of service members and families this event has helped in the past.

Some people chose to march to show their support; others had reasons that hit closer to home.

"I'm a labor and delivery nurse, and I see what happens when babies are born prematurely," Mueller said.

Mueller also marches for another reason; her sister lost a child after being born at 27 weeks. Her family made their own March for Babies team, Avery's Angels.

"It didn't make much sense to fly back to the states to walk with them, so I decided I would donate money and walk the same day they were, but then more and more friends wanted to do it so I contacted March for Dimes to see what I needed to do," she said.

Mueller explained that she is very thankful for the amount of support poured out for the march. "We are very grateful for people donating their time and money, and for sharing their personal stories," she said. "We are excited about breaking this year's record with next year's march, and for the chance to save more babies."

Nationwide, the March for Babies event brings hope to more than half a million babies born too soon each year. The money raised supports programs helping mothers have healthy, full-term pregnancies. It also funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies.

People can still donate until May 1 by visiting

"What we give with one hand we receive back with two, for it takes two hands to hold a baby and in doing so we hold hope in a bright future and the next generation," Molloy said.

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