On June 22, the March of Dimes will hold its annual gala celebration Healthy Babies, Healthy Futures -- A Salute to African-American Families to honor prominent figures making a difference in the African American community.
For the past nine years, this event has raised awareness and over 1 million dollars towards the plight against premature birth, particularly in the African American community - which has the highest rate of prematurity/low birth weight among all ethnic groups. Extremely pre-term infants who do survive are at an increased risk of developmental delays and other problems. The March of Dimes' mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
A recent article in the American Journal of Public Health cites that Black infants are four times as likely to be born before 28 weeks gestation as white infants, an imbalance that hasn't changed in a decade. The article also cites that there are likely many social and environmental factors contributing to this imbalance.
In the past years, Healthy Babies Healthy Futures has recognized such individuals as John Salley, Holly Robinson Peete, Dennis Haysbert, and several other outstanding African Americans. The March of Dimes has quite a history with prominent African American supporters and spokespeople including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis Jr.
The 2007's Honorary Committee includes Kim Coles, Vanessa Williams, Sherri Shepherd, Orlando Jones, and Steve Harris -- all lending their support and dedication to the March of Dimes mission.
This year, honorees include: Wilbert W. James Jr., President of Toyota Long Beach, Sandra Evers-Manly, Vice President Corporate Responsibility, Northrop Grumman, and Sherin U. Devaskar, MD, Professor of Pediatrics/Neonatology, Executive Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Dr. Devaskar is a prominent doctor from UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital making great strides in preventing premature births.