The March of Dimes held the official kickoff for this year’s March for Babies fundraising campaign on July 16 at Aiken Regional Medical Center. Ruben Freeman of WAAW Shout 94.7 FM and the Alpha Phi Alpha team served as emcee at the event, and representatives from family and corporate teams from the Aiken community attended.

“This kickoff is a wonderful opportunity to get our teams’ fundraising efforts started, so they have plenty of time to recruit team members and raise money for healthier babies,” said Amanda DuPre, March of Dimes’ community director.

March for Babies will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center starting at 9 a.m. Funds raised for March for Babies will support research to help prevent premature birth and birth defects, and the money also will support community programs that help women have full-term pregnancies.

Last year, the March of Dimes distributed $400,000 in community grant funding to projects improving the health of South Carolina’s mothers and babies. South Carolina has a premature birth rate of 14.1 percent, one of the highest in the country.

During the Kick Off, participants in 2012’s March for Babies who raised more $1,000 or more were recognized as part of the Circle of Champions.

“Our Circle of Champions members are leading the way so more babies will have a healthy start in life, and more families will know the joy of having a healthy baby,” DuPre said.

To register yourself or a family or corporate team for this year’s March for Babies, call the March of Dimes office at 803-403-8525 or visit In Aiken, March for Babies is sponsored by Publix Super Markets, ASCO, WSI-SRS Team, Aiken Regional Medical Center, Dayco Products and Bank of America.

The March for Babies is sponsored nationally by Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Macy’s, Cigna, Sanofi Pasteur, Famous Footwear, Actavis, Mission Pharmacal and United Airlines.

In 2013, the March of Dimes is celebrating its 75th anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life.