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Join the march for The March of Dimes
4/23/2014 3:54:04 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

During the year, I am bombarded with requests for donations from the Heart Association, State Troopers Associations, March of Dimes, Disabled Veterans and countless more. More often than not I give without even thinking of some of the real work these charities do. I tend to spread out my donations in order to reach diverse needs.

There are some charities that are dear to my heart because of personal reasons or family and friends illnesses and tragedies. The Sickle Cell Foundation is one of them because several members of my family have been battling this disease. It’s a very debilitating and painful disease.

I purchased light bulbs from the Disabled Veterans Charity two consecutive years; so, I decided I wasn’t going to do so the third year. The economy was in a tailspin and I had to cut back on my charitable contributions. So, the third year, I remember receiving a call from the same Disabled Veteran gentleman soliciting my help. I recognized his voice right away because he had a speech impediment. I explained to him that I had given two years in a row to his organization and had earmarked my donations that year for several other organizations.

Well, even with his speech impediment, I clearly understood his obnoxious response and “cussing” out. It was the “cussing” out that made me think about the legitimacy of the organization. I was lured into giving just by the name of the organization, Disabled Veterans. Why wouldn’t I want to give to the men and women of this country who were injured fighting for my freedom? Be sure to check out organizations before giving. Not all charities are who they claim to be.

I grew up watching Jerry Lewis Telethon year after year as donations for Jerry’s Kids were solicited on behalf of the March of Dimes. The Telethon trumped many of my favorite television shows and I sometimes got a little annoyed by the length of the broadcast and even some of the talents. I eventually grew to understand the real meaning of giving to the March of Dimes. I don’t know the real founder of the March of Dimes but some credit former President Franklin D. Roosevelt because of his polio disability.

My earlier memories of the March of Dimes were the “iron Lungs” machine and polio. I knew very little about Polio. I later learned in high school about Dr. Jonas Salk research to create a vaccine that would eliminate this dreadful disease. The “Iron Lungs” was a rectangular tank that enclosed the body and was designed to help the patient breathe. As a kid, it was the most awful looking device but is credited with saving many lives.

Today, the March of Dimes is not only associated with children with defects but premature babies and mothers. The March of Dimes has taken on a new meaning for me. I recently lost a grandson born prematurely. He lived just 14 days and died from Enterovirus.

According to the Center for Disease Control “ Viral meningitis can affect anyone. But infants younger than 1 month old and people whose immune systems are weak are at higher risk for severe infection. If you are around someone with viral meningitis, you have a chance of becoming infected with the virus that made that person sick, but you are not likely to develop meningitis as a complication of the illness.

Factors that can increase your risk of viral meningitis include:
• Age
• Viral meningitis occurs mostly in children younger than age 5.
• Weakened immune system
• There are certain diseases and medications that may weaken the immune system and increase risk of meningitis. For example, chemotherapy and recent organ or bone marrow transplants.

Enteroviruses, the most common cause of viral meningitis, are most often spread from person to person through fecal contamination (which can occur when changing a diaper or using the toilet and not properly washing hands afterwards). Enteroviruses can also be spread through respiratory secretions (saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of an infected person. Other viruses, such as mumps and varicella-zoster virus, may also be spread through direct or indirect contact with saliva, sputum, or mucus of an infected person. Contact with an infected person may increase your chance of becoming infected with the virus that made them sick; however, you are not likely to develop meningitis as a complication of the illness.”

Due to health reasons, I will be unable to walk this year but will you walk for all of the mothers with premature babies, their babies, children and adults with birth defects. And will you walk and donate in memory of my grandson, Justin Lucas, Houston, TX?

For more information go to:

Take care of yourself and join the march this weekend for the March of Dimes.

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