We went to our first walk of 2010 and it was in Montgomery County Texas! What a beautiful, sunny morning it was. We had our t-shirts on and we were ready to walk with 4,000 other March of Dimes supporters.
There were so many families there with babies in strollers, little kids in wagons, and lots of kids my and Alex’s age. My family and Alison and James, Ed from Continental Airlines, and Lawrence who’s 11, Ernie’s son, all walked together for the whole 3 miles!
First, we got to do the countdown. Alex and I counted down from 10 all the way to one into the microphone, and then off everyone went. It was so cool!
Afterwards, we came back and thanked lots of people for all of their support and help. There was even a balloon man there who made purple swords for me and Alex. At the end of the walk, Dr. Peg Reiter, Chief Nursing Officer at St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital is the co-chair of their March for Babies, and she gave me a big balloon hat to take with us. That was so sweet!
Now we’re all ready for the big walk tomorrow morning in Houston. The biggest one in the country – oh, boy!
We arrived in Houston this afternoon and realized this is the first city we came to on our Ambassador Travels back on January 7th when we met Mr. Jeffrey Smisek, CEO of Continental Airlines. Now we’re back and it’s time for the March for Babies walk!
We’re all set and ready to go walking this weekend. HAPPY MARCH FOR BABIES TO ALL!
We are staying with our cousins on Long Island until we leave for our next trip – Houston! Since they live in New York and we live in Florida we don’t get to see them as much as we want. So when we do, it’s a lot of fun! When they were in school today, our Aunt Stephie took us to a great park. When we were driving back home, we drove right past the March of Dimes Long Island Chapter Office – so we just had to stop in a say hello!
Chad answered the door and then Annette took us through the office to where the cookies and cupcakes were. How did she know those are our favorites?!? So we ate a yummy snack and had a great chat with Annette. Then on our way out we met Donna.
We wished them good luck on their walk this Sunday and said goodbye. It was fun to make a surprise visit and meet more great people from the March of Dimes!
We’re off to Houston tomorrow.
Tonight was the Vendor Appreciation Celebration at the March of Dimes headquarters in White Plains, NY. I just love going to the main office and seeing all of the people there. They are so friendly and nice and were so excited to hear all about our travels these past months.
We were talking to some people in the front part of the office like Kathy Behrens, who is a March of Dimes National Trustee, works with the NBA, and has twins who are 3 years old and were born full-term and healthy! Then Dina wanted to introduce us to someone behind us. When Mom and I turned around we looked up and saw the tallest man we’ve ever seen with a big smile on his face, his hand stretched out in a warm greeting. It was Dikembe Mutombo and he’s not only an NBA All-Star but he is also an Ambassador like us! He has a Foundation to improve the health, education and quality of life for the people in his birthplace, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There is so much to say about him – from his amazing basketball career to the creation of his foundation to his incredible campaigns including inoculating 8.2 million children against polio in just two weeks despite civil unrest and failures of electricity. Dikembe is really helping to give back – he is a real superstar!
After my Mom and I spoke and shared our story, there was an auction of some sports things and autographed footballs. It raised a lot of money and Kenny Albert, radio announcer for the NY Rangers and Fox’s field reporter for MLB (he just announced the 20-inning game last weekend!) was the auctioneer, and I got to meet him before and had so much fun talking to him. He told me he was a preemie, too! He was born three months early and weighed 1 pound 15 ounces. And that was back in 1968. Oops, I hope Kenny doesn’t mind that I just gave up his age! Well, he’s really a great and funny person.
So the first auction item was an autographed Eli Manning football and after a long bidding process, Dikembe ended up winning it at $1,100. We all clapped and then he reached over to the microphone and said, “I’m giving this ball to Joshua.” WOW!!! My Mom almost dropped her water bottle and I couldn’t believe how much he paid for a football. That was one of the coolest things that I’ve even seen and I gave Dikembe a high five. He’s so very wonderful and the March of Dimes is so lucky to have people like him as a volunteer.
Then all of the vendors for March of Dimes and March for Babies got awards, too! There was:
PBD Worldwide Fulfillment, of Alphretta, Georgia, Infocision, from Akron, Ohio. Infocision is a long-time partner providing recruitment services for Mother’s March telemarketing. 12-year contributor, their list brokerage, Paradysz Matera and Company from New York. Pep Direct, from Wilton, New Hampshire, who does the mailing labels and has “stuck” with March of Dimes for four years. Blackbaud in Charleston, SC, provided special software project, Mikam an Inner Workings Co. in New York provides printing services for many projects and March for Babies materials. AmericaList, a division of Haines and Company, provides phone and mailing lists that are used in recruitment for the Mother’s March program. Peeq Media in Long Island City NY provides printing services for projects. ProfTech from Elmsford, New York provides office supplies and furniture.
I didn’t want to leave. I was having so much fun playing with a mylar basketball balloon laughing with lots of different people, and smiling for lots of pictures. When we were saying goodbye to everyone, a bunch of people from the March of Dimes stood up, clapped and cheered as we walked out. I felt like a superstar, too!
We were at The Today Show Plaza in Rockefeller Center with lots of people from the March of Dimes. It was so much fun! We all wore purple March for Babies t-shirts and waved when the camera came by.
Tom Aiello is from Kmart and he came in from Chicago with his family. Cameras were rolling when Al Roker came over to our group and Tom told him all about March for Babies so everyone watching The Today Show can spread the word and come out and walk!
We stayed until the end of the show and then we had a conference call with Kmart. It was with Bill Ellis and all the people in the Mid-Atlantic Region and they are #1 fundraisers right now out of all 11 regions throughout the U.S. Their goal is $1.2 million and they already raised $975,000. Just a little more to go and they have 6 weeks to do it! I told everyone on the call I know they will reach their goal, and if they do, I will come to their next regional meeting and give them all hugs AND treat them to milk and cookies! Yum!!!
Tomorrow night is the Vendor Party at the March of Dimes headquarters in White Plains. It’s a sports theme and it seems like it’s going to be a ball!!!
Da Da Dadadada Da Da Dadadada…start spreading the news! We’re going to The Today Show Plaza tomorrow morning…we want to be a part of it – New York, New York!
Tune in tomorrow morning to The Today Show on NBC from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and you just may see us with 70 other MOD Volunteers waving with excitement about March for Babies this weekend!
Speaking of Today, we flew up this morning, had a great flight and drive into the City. Since we had the rest of the day free, Mom was so excited to take me on a tour of the neighborhood where she lived for five years after she graduated college. So we walked over to Grand Central Station (it was beautiful!) and took the express subway Uptown to East 86th Street. She gave me the grand tour of the Upper East Side – her apartment buildings where she lived, the place where she got the best NY bagels, her cleaners, her bank, her supermarket, and her fruit stand. It was so much fun! Then we ate dinner at an Italian restaurant where she ate at all the time. It was the most delicious pasta I’ve ever had.
Maybe I will live here, too, after I go to college. I love NY!
The final countdown begins for March for Babies! 7 more days until many walks will be happening this coming weekend. Some cities already had theirs. Others (like my hometown in Broward County, Florida) are happening a few weeks later. I can’t believe March for Babies is almost here. I know all of the walks are all going to be amazing!
We’re off to New York tomorrow. Tuesday morning something special is planned in the City and Wednesday night something special is planned at the March of Dimes headquarters in White Plains.
As the Final Countdown continues…stay tuned!