March for Babies® Kicks Off at New York Stock Exchange

Mar 01, 2011, 16:00 ET from March of Dimes

Natalie Morales, Co-Host of NBC's Today Show, and Top March of Dimes Volunteers Ring The Closing Bell®

NEW YORK, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Natalie Morales, co-host of NBC's Today Show, was joined today by March of Dimes volunteers to kick off March for Babies, the March of Dimes largest fundraising event, by ringing The Closing Bell® of the New York Stock Exchange.

"I'm the proud mother of two healthy children, but I understand that not everyone is as fortunate," said Ms. Morales. "The March of Dimes helps fund research and supports programs that prevent preterm birth, infant mortality and birth defects. Without March for Babies, the March of Dimes couldn't help families like the Flemings, this year's National Ambassador family, have full-term healthy pregnancies."

One major healthcare problem facing the U.S. today is the alarming rate of babies born preterm. More than 520,000 babies are born too soon in the United States each year, costing the nation more than $26 billion annually. Babies who survive an early birth often face lifelong health challenges including cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning disabilities and other chronic conditions.

"Fundraising is important business, not only for charitable organizations, but also for the corporations that sponsor them," said Jon Spector, March of Dimes Board of Trustees and president and CEO of The Conference Board. "March of Dimes' presence at the world's financial capital is an example of the economic importance of nonprofits. As a father of four, businessman and volunteer, I urge our corporate community to support the March of Dimes mission to help moms have full-term, healthy babies. Fit and strong newborns drive our success in the future."

Last year, about 20,000 companies took part in March for Babies and accounted for more than 75 percent of the $103.5 million raised on behalf of stronger, healthier babies. The goal for this year's event is more than $106 million.  March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes' number one corporate supporter Kmart and other top sponsors Farmers Insurance Group, Bayer HealthCare, CIGNA, Famous Footwear, FedEx, Sanofi Pasteur, United Airlines, First Response and Mission Pharmacal.

Also today, Kmart kicked off March for Babies by throwing a baby shower for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) parents of preemies at Chicago's Rush University Medical Center. Mark Snyder, chief marketing officer for Kmart, presented each family in the NICU with a newborn starter gift basket, complete with gift cards and decorations. This is Kmart's 28th year supporting March for Babies, the longest standing corporate sponsor for the event. Kmart customers and associates defied tough economic times last year and raised a record $10.5 million for March for Babies.

March for Babies takes place in more than 900 communities all across the United States. Most occur the weekend of Saturday, April 30 to Sunday, May 1.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

To join a March for Babies event near you, visit

SOURCE March of Dimes