In less than 10 days, hundreds of community members will begin to take steps and march together to raise awareness of premature births, birth defects and infant mortality.

The annual March for Babies begins at 9 a.m. April 26 in Central Park. The well-known walking event is a fundraiser for the Arbuckle Division of the March of Dimes, and typically brings out 300 supporters in walking shoes and strollers, says division director Nancy Miller.

Last year, those supporters helped bring in funds to benefit the leading nonprofit organization that works to improve the health of mothers and babies. Last year, Ardmore raised more than $225,000 in eight weeks.

“Ardmore is supportive,” Miller said. “We cannot say that enough. We raised more money than any other site in the state, and that includes Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton.”

This year’s march event, called “Walking the World for Babies,” features 57 teams. A majority are veteran teams with three brand new to the event. Teams range from a group representing a local business or school to family teams made up of family members and friends walking to celebrate, honor or remember a little one who has touched their life.

Miller says there is still time for a group to become a March for Babies team. Last year, one team joined with seven days until the walk, raising $700.

For those who wish to join and walk as an individual in March for Babies, there will be a registration area on April 26. There’s a $20 registration fee to join the walk.

“We start in Central Park and begin to walk downtown,” Miller said. “It takes some of them no time and others longer. Once they get back to Central Park, Michelin will be passing out hamburgers and hot dogs.”

The night before the walk, teams will gather for a pep rally at Central Park.

The Ardmore March for Babies kicked off its nine weeks of fundraising on Feb. 24. Since then, teams have been hosting a variety of fundraisers around town, such as raffles, events, golf outings, benefit games and more to raise funds for healthy babies.

Miller says the teams are dedicated and motivated to help the cause for a variety of reasons. Many are connected to the cause in some way.

“Very few people can say they don’t know someone who has been impacted by premature births, birth defects and infant mortality,” Miller says.

March of Dimes strives to bring awareness of its mission. It strives to educate the public on premature birth, the leading cause of newborn death. Additionally, the organization raises awareness for babies who survive an early birth. Those babies often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities, among other challenges.

March of Dimes supports research offering prevention and solutions for babies born too soon or with birth defects and help fund neonatal intensive care units at hospitals.

The organization is an advocate for women taking prenatal vitamins. Additionally, March of Dimes funded the research that developed the Salk polio vaccine.

“Even if you have a healthy baby, you are still affected by the work the March of Dimes does,” Miller says.

To ask questions or to participate, call the Arbuckle Division of the March of Dimes at (580) 277-2973.