WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Jan. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The March of Dimes continues its year-long celebration of its 75 th anniversary today, the 131 st birthday of its founder President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, joined by his grandson James Roosevelt, Jr.
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FDR's birthday was a March of Dimes traditional fundraising day. Today, many March of Dimes chapters are kicking off the charity's signature fundraiser, March for Babies. The National Chairman of March for Babies is Bill Fitzgerald, Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Engines Operation at General Electric. Most events take place on the last weekend in April.
"My grandfather was fearless and ever optimistic. He created confidence in public health and energized people to volunteer and release their own creative energies," says James Roosevelt, Jr. "That's the legacy of the March of Dimes. It takes on tough health challenges, and gives people a way to get involved and make a difference."Today, the March of Dimes is hard at work to prevent the epidemic of premature birth, which affects nearly a half million babies every year. Since 1938, each and every baby born in the United States has been helped by the March of Dimes through programs of research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. "For 75 years, March of Dimes has dedicated itself to giving all children an equal chance at a healthy start in life," says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of March of Dimes. "Since our founding, our fundraisers and research have been a key strategy that has led to many new treatments and saved thousands of lives. We are proud to continue FDR's legacy." Affected by polio himself, FDR established the foundation in 1938 to "lead, direct and unify" the fight against polio. In FDR's day, polio was an epidemic disease that paralyzed or killed up to 52,000 Americans, mostly children, every year.