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Members of Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho raised thousands of dollars for the March of Dimes at the annual March for Babies walk at Exposition Park. Photo by Jason Lewis By Jason Lewis Thousands of participants walked a course that started at Exposition Park and went north up to 23rd Street to raise money for the March of Dimes.The March for Babies, which began in 1970 as the first charitable walking event in the United States, raises millions of dollars a year to help fund research to prevent premature births, birth defects, and infant mortality. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing those issues. More than half a million babies are born prematurely each year, and more than 120,000 are born with serious birth defects in the United States. Almost 56,000 babies are born prematurely every year in California alone. The rate of premature births in the African American community is almost double the rate of prematurely in the Caucasian community.Since 1970 the March of Dimes has raised more than $1.7 billion to fund research and programs to prevent premature birth. The March of Dimes has several partnerships within the black community. Project Alpha is a partnership with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, which provides young males with education, motivation and skill building on issues of responsibility, relationships, teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Stork's Nest is a cooperative project of the March of Dimes and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. that provides prenatal education and incentives for low-income pregnant women. The Preparing for Disaster program addresses the needs of pregnant women and families during a disaster. The March of Dimes also partners with the Black Infant Mortality Task Forces and the Black Nurses Association, as well as many other organizations. To find out how you can support the March of Dimes, visit their website at www.marchofdimes.com.