The March of Dimes is the name of an annual charity event sponsored by the organization of the same name. The fundraiser, now called the March for Babies, is an annual walk to raise money to help fight birth defects and infant mortality. The organization is a non-profit health charity organization geared toward improving the health of babies.
Today, the March of Dimes is one of the largest and most successful not-for-profit organizations in the United States. It relies on contributions to further its goals, including those raised through events such as the March for Babies. In fundraisers like these, participants walk fixed amounts for pledges of money and contributions from others to the foundation.
The organization uses its status as a health charity organization to promote awareness and education among mothers and families. It teaches about prenatal and child care and attempts to educate mothers and healthcare professionals to prevent birth defects. This group runs community services and seminars and spreads knowledge about the possibilities of infant mortality. The foundation also funds research worldwide, giving tens of millions of dollars to scientists in fields researching birth defects, prenatal health, and genetics.
The organization was started in 1938 as a non-profit organization fighting the onslaught of what was then a serious and deadly disease, especially for infants: poliomyelitis. The disease, once known as infantile paralysis but better known as polio, had stricken thousands around the country, leaving many paralyzed and another many dead. The disease caused 6,000 deaths in 1916 in 26 states, many of these children under the age of five.
"March of Dimes" was originally just the name for the charity walk sponsored by the foundation. An original radio ad asked listeners to donate just a dime to help the cause. The organization soon began to be known by its event, and its name was eventually officially changed. The polio vaccine was discovered in 1955, however, meaning that the original goal had been reached.
Three years later, the foundation decided to continue in the arena of health charity. After combating a disease that inflicted infants so heavily, the foundation decided a new mission: fighting birth defects. Into the 21st century, using a program of outreach and education, supporting scientists including 10 Nobel Prize winners, and garnering contributions from every corner of the country, the March of Dimes has much work left to do.