Nathan, Rawley and I had the great honor of serving as the Bloomington-Normal March of Dimes Ambassador Family in 2015. And, like most volunteer experiences, we received far more than we gave.
In recognition of World Prematurity Day today, November, 17th, here’s a look back at our experiences in the Ambassador role this year!
If you aren’t familiar with the work of the March of Dimes, I’d encouraged you to spend a few minutes watching this short video, and read our story to understand why the work of the March of Dimes is so important to our family!
“Roasting for Rawls” Coffee Fundraiser, February – April 2015
As Ambassador Family, we tried to raise as much as we could to support the work of March of Dimes. In addition to cash donations, Nathan roasted coffee at home and sold it, donating all of the profits to our March for Babies Team (see below)! We shipped orders all over the US to friends and family.
March for Babies, April 2015
These walks are held all over the country! Find one in your area! This year, we walked with our whole family, and shared the stage with Town of Normal Council member Kathleen Lorenz, who is also an active supporter of the March of Dimes.
For us, prematurity is kind of a family thing. Rawley wasn’t the first preemie in our family! Nathan and both of his siblings were born prematurely (between 32 and 35 weeks); my niece Hannah was born at 35 weeks; Nathan’s sister’s identical twin boys were born around 34 weeks. We support March of Dimes in honor of all of them!
After a short program, we walked down the Constitution Trail with hundreds of other purple people.
One of the greatest rewards of being involved with the March of Dimes is becoming friends with their amazing staff! I am going to miss them next year! Here we are with Valerie, the local Community Director.
Can Shake, Normal, Summer 2015
I stood in the middle of the road with Valerie, Kathleen, and another preemie mom for a couple hours one hot Saturday morning to collect spare change to benefit the March of Dimes. Honestly, I was skeptical of this particular effort before we began. But it totally restored my faith in humanity! So, so many people gave; we raised hundreds of dollars. Some shared their personal stories of prematurity and loss. It warmed my heart to see so many people willingly give – and not run us over. Thanks, people of BloNo!
5K On The Runway, Chicago O’Hare, September 2015
We drove up to Chicago for the night in late September to participate in the super cool 5K on a new runway at O’Hare International Airport! United Airlines is a major corporate sponsor of March of Dimes. We ran with about 5,000 other people, then hung around for a great party and some up-close time with airplanes and runway snow plows. It was truly unforgettable.
One of the best parts was meeting the 2015 MOD National Ambassador Family!
Radio Interview on WJBC, Bloomington, September 2015
To help promote the Signature Chefs event on October 1, Nathan, Valerie and I did a radio interview for a local news station. Cool bucket list item!
Signature Chefs Bloomington – Normal, Bone Student Center
The culmination of our efforts was the night of 10/1/15, at the Signature Chefs event at Bone Student Center at Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal, IL (Nathan’s alma mater). The Honorary Chairs for the evening were Larry and Marlene Dietz, the President and First Lady of ISU. They were exceptionally generous with their time and efforts for this event, and went the extra step to invite us into their home beforehand so we could all get to know one another before the main event.
Signature Chefs events are held all over the country, and are so much fun! Most events open with cocktail hour, then local chefs set up food stations and serve signature dishes all evening. The program includes comments from the Chairs and the local Ambassador Families, who share their personal story of prematurity. This year, that was us! (I thought Nathan would cry…but I did.)
March of Dimes’ brand color is lavender / purple, as you’ve no doubt noticed by now. 🙂 We went all out in color-coordination! (Rawley’s purple pants: J. Crew kids; My dress: Boden [PSA: Most Comfortable Dress Ever. Get one.])
Here we are with the Dietz’s, also in their purples!
An amazing, amazing year of beautiful memories, blessings, and redemption of prior struggles. We are truly blessed!
We urge you to support the March of Dimes on this World Prematurity Day. We can say, without any doubt, that their work developing surfacant and other treatments is what directly saved Rawley’s life. Many families aren’t as lucky, and we know that. We remember them, and we say thank you from our hearts to everyone that gave this year in Rawley’s honor.