WAILUA — Candie Dagel of Longs Drugs, Lihue, had a very good reason to join the rest of the Longs Drugs team Saturday down Ke Ala Hele Makala‘e across the Lydgate Park main pavilion.
“I have my own preemie,” Dagel said. “She’s walking with Kathy Dagel. Teloa was born five weeks premature and we got some help from the March of Dimes. With their technology and help, we didn’t even have to leave Kauai, and now, Teloa is 2 1/2 years old — and healthy!”
The Longs Drugs walkers were among 200 who embarked on the annual March for Babies fundraising walk benefiting the March of Dimes.
“We’ve been doing this for 46 years,” said Carmella Hernandez, the March of Dimes Hawaii executive director. “March of Dimes was the original, and the first, fundraising walk.”
Earlier, Hernandez received a contribution from the Lions District 50 convention taking place at the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn at Wailua.
“We had a fundraising event Friday at the convention,” said Kelvin Moniz, the Lions District 50 governor. “In just a few minutes, we collected nearly $1,000.”
The statement prompted DJ Mike Dandurand to ask how much short of $1,000. When Moniz replied “$10,” Sally Cravens of The Garden Island stuck her hand out to collect dollar bills from the waiting walkers — then turned over the handful of bills to enable the Lions’ contribution hit $1,000.
“With this extra contribution, and the efforts of the walkers, we should be in good shape for our goal of $56,000,” said Cheryl Farrell, a March of Dimes board member. “Last year, walkers collected $52,000 and set this year’s goal.”
Dandurand said Kmart is the No. 1 team in the country for March of Dimes fundraising. The Hawaii stores raise more than $188,000 just in their March for Babies pin-up card sales which are located by the stores’ cash registers.
“They’re not done yet,” Dandurand said. “They know that every cutout represents money that goes to help save babies, and Kmart will continue selling cutouts until Father’s Day.”
According to the March of Dimes, premature birth is the biggest health crisis facing babies today. Every year in this country, almost half a million babies are born prematurely. Some of these babies die, and many others have lifelong disabilities.
“Premature babies need hope, love — and you,” Dandurand said.