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Ford and Labor Leaders Join Forces with March of Dimes

Members of Congress honored for leadership in maternal and child health

Washington, D.C., Thursday, October 08, 2009

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The leaders of Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers are not only joining forces to help revitalize America’s auto industry – they’re also coming together to support the March of Dimes and raise $100 million to give babies a healthy start in life.

Tonight at the Library of Congress, the March of Dimes honored special volunteers and announced the first-ever March for Babies National Co-chairs, Alan Mulally, President and CEO of Ford Motor Company and Ron Gettelfinger, President of United Auto Workers. The two leaders have committed their organizations to raise at least $1 million toward the national goal.

“I was honored to be asked, along with Alan Mulally, to serve in this role,” said Ron Gettelfinger. “We’ve worked together in the aerospace and auto industries, and now we have come together to support a great American cause – stronger, healthier babies. I never miss a chance to join the March for Babies in my local community,” said Gettelfinger. “This year’s campaign will reach nationwide, to all the men and women of the UAW. We’re focused on bringing people together to make a real difference.”

Mulally and Gettelfinger spoke about their dedication to the cause during a brief program that also recognized outstanding leaders. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D- Calif) received the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Leadership Award and Sen. Christopher ‘Kit’ Bond (R-MO) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) were each honored with the March of Dimes Award for Lifetime Achievement in Public Affairs. Greg Gumbel (CBS Sports), Kerri Strug (Olympic gymnast) and Bruce Johnson (CEO, Sears Holdings) received Volunteer Leadership awards for helping to raise public awareness of the cause.

“The March of Dimes is a remarkable organization and the outstanding individuals honored tonight are terrific role models for all of us,” said Alan Mulally. "On behalf of all Ford Motor Company stakeholders, I am honored to serve alongside Ron Gettelfinger and these outstanding volunteers for the good of healthy babies."

Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, President of the March of Dimes, shared startling statistics showing that nearly 13 million infants were born preterm worldwide in 2005 and more than a million infants die each year from their early birth. The United States’ rate of premature birth has increased by 36 percent in the last 25 years and is a significant contributor to rising health care costs.

“The leadership of volunteers enabled the March of Dimes to conquer polio,” said Dr. Howse. “We are confident that the team of Gettelfinger and Mulally, along with 3 million volunteers can reduce the toll of premature birth and help lead the way toward a time when every baby in every community is born healthy.”

About March of Dimes
The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

For the latest resources and health information, visit our websites marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org. To participate in our annual signature fundraising event, visit marchforbabies.org. If you have been affected by prematurity or birth defects, visit our shareyourstory.org community to find comfort and support. For detailed national, state and local perinatal statistics, visit persistats.org. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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