CONYERS -- Nurse midwife Patti Detzel, Gaynell Freeman and Valerie Davis sat at a table decorated with purple buckets after Friday's kick-off luncheon for the annual Rockdale/Newton March of Dimes fundraising campaign.
The three women represented a team of local businesses and plan to help reach this year's goal of $83,000.
March of Dimes is a national nonprofit organization that helps pregnant women and babies born premature or with birth defects. Individuals and various groups commit to raise money during the organization's annual grassroots campaign.
Participants received their order forms and other fundraising materials at Friday's luncheon.
Detzel estimated that her group has been participating in the Rockdale/Newton March of Dimes campaign for the past five or six years. When asked why, Detzel said, "Because it's our future."
"It's America's future," she added.
Twenty-month-old Hunter Ash is part of that future.
Hunter, a spry and smiling toddler today, weighed 2 pounds, 3 ounces at birth and came home from the hospital with a feeding tube and pulse ox machine, a device that measures oxygen levels in the blood.
Because of his early struggle for life, baby Hunter will be the ambassador for this year's local campaign.
Hunter's parents, Mandi and Craig Ash, explained to the group at Friday's kick-off they did not have the money for Hunter's medicine and medical bills.
"The March of Dimes really helped us out," Craig Ash told the crowd. "All that was taken care of ... We're very grateful for what they've done for us."
This year's co-chair and captain Kylie Rowland agreed and said the March of Dimes is involved in a lot of research to help make sure all babies are healthy.
This year's March for Babies walk will take place May 15 and starts at the Covington Family YMCA. Tina Marshburn, team captain for C.R. BARD, encouraged the crowd to mark their calendars now for the event and prepare for a good time.
"Fun is the best way to represent what we're here for. And that's to raise funds," Marshburn said.
Rockdale/Newton March of Dimes raised $78,000 for the March of Dimes.
The March of Dimes March for Babies walk has raised more than $1.8 billion since it began in 1970.
For more information, visit www.marchforbabies.org.