WAILUA — The students’ eyes were still heavy from sleep, but they tumbled out of bed to help.
Hailing from the Kapa‘a High School band and chorus, the students came because the March of Dimes asked them, said Warrior band instructor Catherine Paleka.
“The last time I did this, I was still in school,” Paleka said. “I didn’t know they still did this.”
As the hundreds of walkers representing individuals and corporate teams took off along the Lydgate Park bike and pedestrian walkway, the Warrior flag personnel hailed them on while the band provided music.
Earlier, members of the Kapa‘a chorus opened the event with renderings of the national and state anthems under Paleka’s direction.
Other volunteers from a community church were busy with popcorn, icing down juice and liquids, and preparing the light breakfast for the walkers who turned out with pledges and contributions going to benefit the March of Dimes.
Lisa Carvalho held daughter Zoe who was overwhelmed by the numbers of people who turned out.
The Carvalho family is this year’s Kaua‘i poster family, Zoe being able to take part in the festivities due to the numerous efforts of community groups and agencies.
WalkAmerica is a national program of the March of Dimes and focuses on awareness, education and fund-raising to help combat premature birth, the leading cause of newborn deaths.
According to the WalkAmerica Web site, premature birth has reached epidemic proportions in the nation, endangering the lives of more than half-a-million babies. And it is growing.
For Zoe’s dad, the event was more than celebrating his daughter — it was a way to thank the many people in the community who provided prayers, thoughts, and personal effort that enabled Zoe to be part of the walk that traversed the southern beach of Lydgate Park to the Kamalani Bridge and back to the main pavilion.
To this end, “Fun and Kwazy Rides” set up their inventory of rides for the younger people to enjoy — after all, walking for a baby left no time for the Easter egg hunts taking place elsewhere.
Kaua‘i’s effort saw a group from the Hale ‘Ohana o Kapa‘a turn out.
“They wanted to come out,” a spokesperson for the public housing group said. “They went out to raise money and wanted to be part of this.”
Funds raised go to help research the causes of premature birth and how it can be prevented. Additionally, funds help support families whose babies must spend time in neonatal intensive care units and to provide women with the latest information on having a healthy pregnancy.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or email@example.com