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1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Returns to Atlanta as a Champion for Babies
ATLANTA, OCT 1, 2010 - Fourteen years after clinching a gold medal for the U.S. Gymnastics team in the 1996 Olympics here, Kerri Strug returned to Atlanta to join more than 350 March of Dimes volunteers for their annual March for Babies National Kickoff held at the Carter Center.
"It's important to set aside time to help causes that touch so many lives," said Ms. Strug, who during the 1996 Olympics, performed a heroic second vault despite a sprained ankle, clinching the first ever U.S. gymnastics team Olympic gold medal. "I believe in setting goals and working hard to achieve your dreams. That’s why I’m working with the March of Dimes toward the goal of giving more babies a healthy start in life."
Football great Joe Namath was honored with a Champion for Babies Award for walking more than 100 miles and raising more than $25 million for March of Dimes. Namath, who hosts an annual golf tournament at Bethpage State Park, in Farmingdale, N. Y., which raises nearly $1 million for the March of Dimes, sent a videotaped message
Robert Woudstra, CEO of Farmers Insurance Group, Inc., which has raised more than $30 million for the March of Dimes, was honored with the Chairman’s Award for Volunteer Leadership. Kevin Kelso, Farmers chief marketing officer and executive vice president, accepted the award on his behalf.
Gretchen Carlson, co-host of Fox & Friends and a member of the March of Dimes National Communications Advisory Council, was honored with the President’s Award for Volunteer Leadership for her efforts to raise awareness about premature births.
Actress Camille Winbush and actress, comedian also attended the conference.
During the conference, the March of Dimes announced that Ed Hanway, a member of the March of Dimes Board of Trustees and past chairman of CIGNA Corporation, will become honorary chairman of the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign. He will follow Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, president emeritus of the Morehouse School of Medicine, former secretary of Health and Human Services and chairman of the National Health Museum in Atlanta. Dr. Sullivan launched the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign in 2003 and led it through the first two-year decline in the nation’s preterm birth rate.
"Since we began the Prematurity Campaign in 2003, Dr. Sullivan has helped break the silence about the hidden epidemic of premature birth in America," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "His leadership helped bring about the recent declines in the nation’s preterm birth rate. Although too many babies still are born too soon, we are confident this is just the start and that Ed Hanway will help us continue the fight for stronger, healthier babies."
Mr. Hanway presented Dr. Sullivan with the Jonas Salk Award for Leadership in Prematurity Prevention for his lifetime of leadership in public health.
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 information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.