CHICAGO, April 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,000 employees of United Airlines – the Official Airline of March of Dimes National Ambassador Program and a national sponsor of March for Babies – showed their commitment to healthy moms and babies at dozens of March for Babies walk events during the past weekend. Employees in all of United's hub cities – Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. – and from 42 additional communities are rallying around the March of Dimes' mission that one day all babies will be born healthy.
More than half a million babies are born premature in the U.S. every year. To help reduce this number, United employees this year held auctions, bake sales and joined in friendly competitions ranging from chili cook-offs to baby photo contests, raising more than $200,000 for March of Dimes' research, education and advocacy programs. United has been a proud sponsor of March of Dimes since 2006.
"Our families, co-workers and neighbors have all known someone affected by a premature birth, and March of Dimes has been there in support. We're honored to partner with March of Dimes to help increase awareness and give babies a better chance for a healthy start," said Jeff Smisek, United's chairman, president and CEO.
As the official airline of the National Ambassador Program, United has flown fly 7-year-old Nina Centofanti, who was born prematurely, to fulfill her duties as March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador. Since January, Nina and her family have been on 24 trips with United covering more than 13,700 miles to share her inspiring story with millions of Americans. She has visited the White House, participated in the NYSE Closing Bell Ceremony, attended NASCAR events and appeared on countless media programs to bring awareness to the cause.Click here for photos of Nina and her family with John Rainey, United's chief financial officer, at the March of Dimes event in Chicago. "If it wasn't for March of Dimes and what they've done for us, there is a good chance our son wouldn't be here," said Dustin Pingleton of his son, Elijah, who was born prematurely in 2010. Pingleton and his wife, Beth, are both United Customer Service Representatives in Tulsa, Okla. "Success stories are all around us; it's incredible to know how many babies have been helped by March of Dimes." "It's such a strong cause for us personally, and we are so happy to see United and our co-workers support of March of Dimes," Beth added.