Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 |
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LIHUE — Zoe Carvalho, 11, was in the hospital for the first two months of her life.
“She was a preemie,” said Lisa Ubay, Zoe’s mother.
During that terrifying time, Ubay and her family traveled to and from Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children on Oahu.
“There is this room in the hospital, it’s called the family room, and it’s a place where the family can sort of hang out and wait around,” Ubay said. “We spent a lot of time there and were so grateful for that space, and March of Dimes was the one that sponsored that room.”
That’s what set Ubay, Zoe and her sister, Autumn Lee on a path toward last April’s March for Babies, an annual fundraiser for March of Dimes, and Zoe’s eighth straight win of the Top Walker title.
“The Top Walker is the person that raises the most funds,” said Cheryl Ann Ferrell, a board member of the Kauai March of Dimes. “Zoe and her family have been really involved since she was born.”
Zoe is like any other 11-year-old girl. She likes art, she’s active and her favorite thing to do is play with her sister.
“Zoe is so dedicated,” Ferrell said. “She’s such a special girl. She was one of our ambassador children — her family was an ambassador family, which is kind of like a poster family for March of Dimes.”
This year, Zoe raised $3,430 for the March for Babies. In total, she’s raised more than $24,000 for the charity.
“It makes me feel good to know that I’ve been able to help out so many families and babies,” Zoe said.
Ubay said Zoe has won the title every year that she’s walked in the March for Babies, but she’s participated even before actually walking.
“Before she could walk, we had her and her sister each in a stroller,” Ubay said.
“We did the walk around Lydgate Park with both of them in strollers, then it was on bikes, and then it was on razor scooters, then they were walking it.”
Zoe has also been the Top Walker in the state of Hawaii twice, in 2013 and in 2014.
“They used to invite all of the Top Walkers to the governor’s house on Oahu. We’d go and Zoe used to tell me that she loved to do that,” Ubay said. “They don’t do that anymore, though.”
The march is held annually, in April, and participants are given envelopes to fill with donations they collect from the community, or online using sites like Facebook.
“When we first started, we went door to door, but that’s a tough gig,” Ubay said. “It makes it easier to have the Internet, and we have people who donate faithfully every single year.”
The family owns Fun-N-Kwazy, a business that provides games, like bounce houses, for parties. Ubay said the walk is a way for the business, as well as the family, to give back.
Besides individual honors, Kauai teams and businesses also competed for top titles in this year’s March for Babies. The top local Kauai team was Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, which brought in a little over $3,200. Wilcox Health came in second with $900 and third place was Aurai Fitness, which raised $800.
Kmart is one of the march’s national sponsors and won the award for Kauai with first place bringing in a total $25,219. The Kauai Kmart was in the top 10 stores in the entire U.S.
The March for Babies is one of the top fundraisers for the March of Dimes. Nationwide, more than 7 million people and 22,000 corporations and organizations participate in the march.
The money that’s raised in the annual March for Babies helps Kauai families with premature babies. The money also funds research.
Zoe is planning on walking in the March for Dimes next year. And she plans on being the Top Walker, again.
“My goal is to raise more money than I did this year,” she said.
Jessica Else, education reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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