KAHULUI - The March for Babies will be held April 18 with headquarters at the War Memorial Gym and a two-mile walk at Keopuolani Park.
The annual event supports the March of Dimes' efforts to help women have full-term pregnancies and babies to begin their lives strong and healthy.
Premature birth affects more than half a million babies in America each year. Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities.
Richard Robinson holds Rachel so she can see her sister, Olivia, who was born in October.
"Participating in March for Babies is an important way to support the cause of healthy babies," said Karlynn Fukuda of Kahului. "Whether you walk to celebrate a baby in your life or to honor one who did not survive, together we can work to prevent premature birth and other infant health problems and look forward to a day when every baby is born healthy and strong."
Karlynn and Jeral Fukuda's daughter, Jaelynn, weighed 2 pounds when she was born at 25 weeks gestation (full term is about 40 weeks). Now healthy, she turned 1 on Valentine's Day. The Fukudas, who live in Kahului, are a co-ambassador family for this year's Maui walk.
Their ambassador family partners are the Robinsons of Kihei. Shannon and Richard Robinson have two daughters. Both were born prematurely.
The Robinsons formed Team Rachel to support the March of Dimes after their older child was born in 2006 three months premature and weighing 1 pound 13 ounces. Second daughter Olivia was born in October at 31 weeks gestation and weighing 3 pounds 3 ounces.
Team Rachel has held fundraisers to complement the family's efforts for the annual march, and Shannon Robinson is a member of the local March of Dimes board of directors. Team Rachel's Web site is at www.teamrachel.org.
Marchers solicit and make donations to the March of Dimes. To participate, see www.marchforbabies.org, call (800) 525-9255 or pick up a sponsor form at Kmart or Longs Drugs.
Maui march information also is available by calling 281-5772 or e-mailing email@example.com.
The march is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. at the gym, with most of the walking done at Keopuolani Park, which is across Kanaloa Avenue. Food, entertainment and activities for the whole family will follow.
Locally, donations to the March of Dimes:
* Support pre- and neonatal education for parents and one-on-one support, especially for families sent to Oahu for the birth of a premature child.
* Provide grants for work that supports the March of Dimes mission. Examples of recipients are Hui No Ke Ola Pono, Community Clinic of Maui and Malama Na Makua A Keiki on Maui; the Molokai General Hospital Women's Health Center; and Maui Family Support Services' program on Lanai.
The nonprofit March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. March for Babies is its premiere event, and proceeds also support research, which has led to things like polio and rubella vaccines, sonograms and ultrasounds, development of neonatal intensive care units and research into sudden infant death syndrome.
Betty and Dorvin Leis are the honorary chairpersons of the Maui march.
In addition to Kmart and Longs, Maui march supporters include Maui Medical Group, First Hawaiian Bank, Arisumi Brothers and Territorial Savings Bank.
Kmart is the March of Dimes top national corporate sponsor. Other 2009 national sponsors are CIGNA, Continental Airlines, Famous Footwear, Farmers Insurance Group, FedEx, First Response, Liberty Tax Services and Ther-Rx.
In Hawaii, support also comes from HMAA, The Honolulu Advertiser, Panasonic, Alexander & Baldwin, Marathon Group and Tesoro.
For other March of Dimes resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or its Spanish-language site, nacersano.org.