March of Dimes walk held at Callaway Gardens

Published 8:48 pm Sunday, November 12, 2017

Approximately 4,000 people braced the chill of Saturday night and took part of the 25th annual March of Dimes Night Walk at Callaway Gardens. The annual march was part of the garden’s Fantasy in Lights show.

Shannon Pittman, development manager for March of Dimes, said the proceeds from the night also goes to the Ida Cason Callaway Foundation.

“The partnership was created years and years ago and it has proven to be a crowd favorite in terms of events, and it grows year after year,” Pittman said.

The 5-mile walk included 15 Christmas and winter themed light displays and scenes accompanied by music.

Pittman said November is Prematurity Awareness Month and that Nov. 17 is Prematurity Awareness Day. To kick off the walk Saturday night, the opening ceremony had families who’ve been impacted by prematurity.

“It’s the perfect time to raise awareness for our mission and raise funds for our research as well as the holiday season,” she said. “It’s incredible. We had an opening ceremony that featured several families that have personally been impacted by prematurity and infant loss. It was a very emotional moment and to share their stories and how the March of Dimes has impacted their lives and how much they appreciate all these people coming out and supporting what we do.”

Pam Bauer, director of brand development and marketing for Callaway Gardens and resort, said the gardens held the Fantasy in Lights the first year without the March of Dimes, but they have partnered ever since.

“After the first year, someone very smart decided to start this partnership, and we can’t be more proud to partner with the organization. We have a shared partnership with the March of Dimes, so some of our proceeds go to benefit our foundation,” Bauer said. “Each year both of the charities benefit from the night walk.”

As participants walked into the path of the lights, the Harris County High School drumline played to pep up the crowd. Pittman said they brought the group to bring the community together.

“Last year we had a dance school come and perform some dances,” she said. “This year we wanted to go from our opening ceremony and into the walk in a parade fashion, so everybody could go together and kind of march toward the same thing.”

Pittman said she enjoys working alongside Callaway Gardens for the annual event.

“We love working with Callaway Gardens. It’s truly a blessing to partner with a great organization that share some of the same morals and values,” she said.

Pittman said the March of Dimes is working to bring the premature birth rate down in Georgia.

“Georgia’s prematurity rate in in the top 10 in the entire country. It’s higher than the national average at 11.2 percent,” she said. “’[Our motto is] we imagine a world where every baby is given the opportunity to thrive, live the life they choose and grow up to change the world.’”