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Walk for Babies has record number of walkers

FARMINGTON – The St. Francois County March of Dimes Walk for Babies made their goal and had a record number of walkers this year.

The walk was held at Long Memorial Park in Farmington Thursday evening. The chairs for the 2012 March for Babies are Ursula Kthiri of Parkland Health Center and Michele Ziegelmeyer with Cunningham Recreational. The goal of this year’s March for Babies fundraising is $33,000. The walk raised $33,000.72 by the end of Thursday and more was still coming in as the event continued.

Many from around the community participated and helped raise money. Boy Scout Troop 483 presented the colors for the event, Colleen Gallagher sang the National Anthem, Katelyn Wiles from Farmington Sports and Rehab did the warm up before the walk and Central High School Student Council raised more than $1,000 for the walk. They also a race for kids at the walk and handed out medals to those who participated.

Southeast Missouri Division Director Beth Simmons said this was a record number of people at this walk and she wanted to give a big thanks to those who participated this year.

“Thanks to the committee members. I have a lot of them and there are too many to name, but thank you to all of you, thanks to the volunteers, the teams and the walkers who participated this year,” said Simmons.

Before the walkers began, the co-chairs thanked the crowd for their donations and help this year.

Kthiri thanked those who came Thursday for their support of the March of Dimes and reminded everyone that money raised goes to help saving babies. She said there is one baby in particular that their money is helping who is near and dear to her heart who was born early Thursday morning.

“My great niece was born early this morning and she weighed 3 pounds, 12 ounces. She’s in a hospital in Tulsa, OK and I won’t be able to hold her for about another three weeks because she’s in the NICU. But because of the money we have helped raise tonight it will help her,” said Kthiri.

Ziegelmeyer said she has been donating for years and for the last years it’s become more important to her. She has become more active because she lost a child prematurely.

“I want to thank the businesses and individuals who help by donating,” said Zieglemeyer.

Jason Loughary and Kelly Valley with B104 and KFMO along with Rowe Cavelli presented the check from the DJ for a Day auction which raised $888. The winner also received four tickets to a Cardinals game of their choice except for opening game day.

The Ambassador Family, Lynne, Landon and Paisley Wisdom told a short version of their story to the walkers and Paisley sang “Jesus Loves Me” before the walk.  Paisley, now 3, was born in February 2009 four weeks early.

Lynne’s pregnancy with Paisley was difficult and followed an earlier miscarriage and the loss of a daughter, Olivia Rose, after only a few hours of life. The Wisdoms started the Olivia Rose Ministry, which provides care packages for hospitals to give to parents who lose a baby.

Kthiri said this is her 11th year to participate in the March of Dimes walk and by far this is one of the largest walks she has seen. This year had a record for family teams and that was one of the goals for the committee this year. The St. Francois County walk also had a record number of corporate sponsorships this year.

Simmons announced a new top walker this year at the end of the walk as Tiffany Thompson.

Top Corporate Sponsors this year were Ozarks Federal Savings and Loan with $3,709, Parkland Health Center with $3,239 and New Era Bank with $2,468.

Top Family Teams were Riker Thompson, Tan the Man and Paisleys Pals.

“We are grateful to everyone who has participated, whether it be walking today, donating either monetarily or in-kind from our local businesses, those volunteering their time, and for our corporate sponsorships and our corporate and family teams,” said Ziegelmeyer.  “This year’s committee has been wonderful to work with and has done an awesome job. I am proud to be a part of such a generous community.”

“I could not have asked for a better turn out of people and we had a great day for the walk. We made our goal and could not have asked for a better year,” said Simmons.

Simmons estimated 500 walkers at this years event.

For more information contact Beth Simmons, March of Dimes Southeast Division Director, at 573-651-6033 or or go online to

Maridee Lawson is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 756-8927 or

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