WalkAmerica raises funds to fight early births

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – Saturday’s weather was perfect for a stroll, or a three-mile walk, in the park as 66 men, women, and children gathered at the Demopolis Sports-Plex for the sake of preventing premature births during the Demopolis March of Dimes’ Walk America.

“This is the biggest turnout we’ve had in several years,” community director Jennifer Thomason, said. “We reached our goal and raised over $10,000.”

Employees from Alabama Power, BankTrust, Robertson Bank, Rock-Tenn, the Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital and their families participated in the special moment.

Email newsletter signup

Alabama Power employees went home with the first place title for collecting $2,370 while Robertson Bank was second with an unknown amount.

“We’ll let Alabama Power have it since our total’s not in,” Thomason, also Robertson employee, said.

BankTrust came in third with $1,885 and BWWMH was fourth with $739.

Robertson Bank and BankTrust received awards for being bronze sponsors, Rock Tenn and Alabama Power were gold sponsors and Tommy Vice received the award for raising the most money independently with over $1,000 in funds.

“I want to say thank you to all the people in Demopolis who helped me,” Vice said.

Three-year-old Murphy Rabalais was the Ambassador child for Demopolis.

According to his mother, Christi, Murphy was born six weeks premature and suffered severe head injuries.

Although doctors told Christi and her husband, Gary, to prepare for cerebral palsy, deafness and an inability to do anything on his own, Christi said five months of speech therapy and Murphy’s strong will “made him a success for today and an even bigger one for tomorrow.”

Christi said Murphy was and inspiration to everyone he encounters because his life motto is: “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, let me show you what I can do.”

Ginger Solliday, her five-year-old daughter Sydni and other family members also participated in the walk as the March of Dimes family.

Although Ginger birthed Sydni prematurely, she lost a 6-day-old daughter, Jessi Nicole, to premature effects in July.

“We’ve done March of Dimes ever since Sydni was born,” Ginger said. “We participate to find out why we have premature babies.”

Rusty Aldridge from the Montgomery March of Dimes office even showed up with his puppet pal, Gus.

“I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to come back next year,” Aldridge said.

Funds raised in Demopolis will benefit the March of Dimes Foundation in its attempts to save babies from the silent crisis of premature death.