March of Dimes kicks off its 2014 campaign

The March of Dimes just kicked off their 2014 campaign. Front Street's very own Seth Lane is a North Central Florida Board member for the March of Dimes and Front Street will be putting a team together for this year's walk. March of Dimes Florida Chapter has one goal: to help babies in our community start life in the healthiest way possible. Through education and intervention, we help moms-to-be learn how to take care of themselves before, during and after their pregnancy. 

The walk on March 22 starts at 8 a.m. at Westwood Middle School and follows an 8.5-mile course.

To register for the walk or to make a donation, visit


From The Gainesville Sun - By Kristine Crane

Tammy Dygert had what she thought would be a textbook pregnancy: She ate right and exercised, and there were no red flags — until right before her third trimester.

At 25 weeks, Dygert’s baby girl was ready to come out. Full-term births last 39 weeks, making her daughter, Autumn, extremely premature.

“She didn’t have lungs to breathe or full brain development,” Dygert said. Autumn weighed one pound, 10 ounces.

“We didn’t have overnight bags packed, and we hadn’t done parenting classes. We didn’t even have a name picked out,” Dygert said, adding, “We had airbags and seat belts known as the March of Dimes.”

The March of Dimes, established in 1938 to fight polio, supports research on prematurity and provides resources to premature babies and their families. The North Central Florida region — which includes Lake City, Ocala, Palatka and Gainesville — has come in first in the nation for the amount of money raised per capita for the past 30 years, and Thursday marked the kickoff luncheon for the local fundraising race that culminates in the “March for Babies” on March 22.

“It’s not just about saving babies’ lives, but the whole family,” Dygert said, who credits March of Dimes support with helping sustain her daughter’s delicate beginnings until she blossomed into the healthy child that she is today.

About 11.9 percent of the 2,866 babies born each year in Alachua County are premature. This is slightly lower than the roughly 13 percent of premature babies born in Florida each year.

Elaine Almond, mother of 8-year-old Carter, who was also born premature, has been leading a team walk ever since Carter was born to return the help she received from the March of Dimes. She normally raises between $5,000 and $10,000.

“(Carter) is doing great,” Almond said, adding that he’s avoided problems such as asthma, learning disabilities and muscular problems that can follow premature babies into childhood.

Carter was recently accepted into the gifted program at Meadowbrook Elementary School, where he also participates in the morning mile program for early morning exercise.

Almond said she was also a direct beneficiary of March of Dimes research on the role of progesterone in healthy pregnancies. She took progesterone shots during her two pregnancies after Carter’s birth. Both of those pregnancies were normal.

Many of the attendees at Thursday’s luncheon hailed from the local businesses that compete for top fundraiser. The 13 local Publix grocery stores have come in first the past few years, followed by UF Health Shands Hospital.

Publix has special fundraisers such as car washes and employee luncheons, said Ron Umpleby, manager of Gainesville’s Main Street store. They host themed lunches such as chili for $5, and the proceeds go to the March of Dimes. All that adds up to thousands of dollars. Last year, Publix raised $96,196 locally.

This year’s March for Babies chairs are Larry and Gayle Scott. Larry Scott is the CEO of Campus USA Credit Union in Gainesville.

One new program at this year’s fundraising campaign is a free nine-week training program for walkers.

Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., walkers can meet at the lobby of the main Gainesville Health and Fitness Center to walk for an hour, and they receive a temporary membership pass to the gym.

The walk on March 22 starts at 8 a.m. at Westwood Middle School and follows an 8.5-mile course.

To register for the walk or to make a donation, visit


Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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