Monday, April 23, 2012

Mothers March -- A True Story

- By Cass Irvin -

Someone from the March of Dimes called my house shortly after I moved back to Kenwood Hill.  She was perky and pleasant and she told me all about the Mothers March.  No one from my neighborhood had, as of yet, volunteered to go door-to-door to collect and she noticed from my card in the files that I had collected in my neighborhood several years back.  She thought I was Mom.

She was calling to see if I'd be willing to do it again.  For one second I wanted to say what I heard my mom say when she didn't want to do something:  "Well, we have one of those here at home and I can't really leave her here all alone."

As I listened to the caller tell me how they wanted me to collect donations or leave information at each door, a little angel and a little devil fussed at each other in my brain.

Angel:  You can't say anything to her!  She can't see you.  She doesn't know!

Devil:  But how will she learn if someone doesn't tell her?

Angel:  You're saying it's for her own good, right?  You always say something like that when you want to justify meanness.  It will embarrass her.  It's not polite.  You have to be understanding and sympathetic toward people who aren't aware, who haven't had experience.

Devil:  You're too generous with people.  I'm tired of being the one who has to be generous, understanding and polite.

The caller paused.  She was waiting for my answer.

"Well," I said, "I think you have me confused with my mother.  I would be interested in helping out but I use a motorized wheelchair . . . . and since the houses in my neighborhood aren't accessible, I don't think I could do it.  But, thanks for asking."

Mothers March history
The March of Dimes is a well-known nonprofit group whose goal is to fight birth defects got its name and its start in the story of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Warm Springs, GA.

When Roosevelt started the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, he wanted it to be a premier center for treating polio.  He soon realized treating polio wasn't enough--he wanted to find a way to prevent and cure it so he established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which later became the March of Dimes.

Originally, Roosevelt raised money by holding a ball in honor of his birthday every year. But it wasn't enough money.  Comedian Eddie Cantor, spoofing the popular March of Times newsreels, came up with the idea of a March of Dimes. President Roosevelt would urge all Americans to send him dimes in support of polio research.  He figured even in the height of the Depression, most people could afford a dime.  The first day, the foundation collected $17.50. But then the money kept pouring in for a total for 2.68 million dimes, or $268,000.

Over 60 years ago, parents in Phoenix, AZ organized a collection: "Turn on your porch light, fight polio tonight." In minutes, more than $45,000 was raised and the annual Mothers March Campaign was born. Mothers March is the first and longest-running March of Dimes fundraising event. What began as a door-to-door campaign to fight polio, a goal reached over five decades ago and has evolved into a campaign to give every baby a healthy start to life.

Today funds raised through Mothers March help fund lifesaving research and programs that help give more babies a healthy start to life.  Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers participate in this historic campaign, in communities all across America, to help raise funds and awareness.

Greater Kentucky Chapter Address: 4802 Sherburn Lane, #103, Louisville, KY 40207
Phone: (502) 895-3734    Email:

Kentucky March events:

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