April 20, 2004 – Virgin Islanders will join tens of thousands of other New Yorkers and people across the nation on Sunday in taking part in the 34th annual March of Dimes WalkAmerica fund-raising event.
Members of the not-for-profit group Virgin Islanders United Inc. and their families and friends will participate as Team VIU, according to a release.
"Virgin Islanders United is accepting donations and walkers alike to join Team VIU," Tamara Wrenn, VIU town hall chair, said in a release. To become a team sponsor or join in as a walker, she says, "go online at WalkAmerica.org and type in Virgin Islanders United Inc., or call (212) 713-5787."
And that's not just for folks in New York, Wrenn explains: "By registering online, you can join Team VIU and walk anywhere WalkAmerica takes place."
While the site provides information about local March of Dimes chapters in the states, it does not list any for the territory.
WalkAmerica, according to the Web site, is a signature fund-raising event for the March of Dimes. "When you participate in WalkAmerica, you're helping the March of Dimes fight a national crisis — premature birth," it states. "Today, one in eight babies is born prematurely. Many die; others face lifelong disability. The money raised in WalkAmerica supports March of Dimes research and programs to find answers to what causes premature birth and what can be done to prevent it.
Premature births in the nation have been rising, the site states, posing "a major and growing threat to the health of more than 470,000 babies every year." WalkAmerica supports research and programs that save babies from prematurity, birth defects and other infant health problems.
Wrenn explains that while Virgin Islanders United is dedicated first of all to promoting the history and culture of the Virgin Islands, the organization also provides community outreach programs, events and services. VIU "recognizes the importance of having healthy babies that grow up to be healthy adults in our society," she said in the release.
"Every individual you meet can tell you about a family member or friend whose baby was born too early," she continued. "Many of these stories have good outcomes, but some of the endings are not so happy. Even the ones that end on a positive note often have many bumps along the way."
Joining WalkAmerica, Wrenn said, "is an opportunity for members of Virgin Islanders United, Team VIU, to put their feet and time to good use."
To learn more about Virgin Islanders United, check out the group's lively animated and audio-supported VIU Web site.
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