The new March of Dimes fundraiser will feature used, donated gowns for less than $100. High school students and sorority members, some of whom donated their gowns, will model the dresses in a fashion show at noon. The sale will start at 1 p.m.
According to the March of Dimes, prematurity is the leading cause of death for babies who die before age 1. The not-for-profit organization reports that 13.3 percent of Missouri's babies are born preterm, almost double the Healthy People 2010 objective of 7.6 percent. Healthy People 2010 is a federal initiative to identify public health priorities and specific, measurable objectives.
"I've always been a huge supporter of the March of Dimes," said Debbie Profilet, a Montgomery Bank March of Dimes team member. Her team organized the Ballgowns for Babies event.
"My grandson was born a month early," Profilet said. She said he spent a few weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit to monitor and help lung development.
The team has collected a variety of sizes and styles for the sale, including dresses with open backs, strapless ones, ones with beading and classic styles. Used dresses dropped off today before noon at Buckner's will also be included in the sale.
Shelly Kaiser, also a Montgomery Bank team member, got the idea of a used-dress fundraiser after seeing the American Cancer Society hold one.
The Southeast Missouri March of Dimes holds it's flagship event in May. This year's walk will be May 2. The two- to three-mile route through downtown is still being planned.
Money raised from the walk and fundraisers like the Ballgowns event help the March of Dimes support newborn screening for all babies, premature and full term, nationwide to help prevent birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
"Because one in six women in Missouri are uninsured, we are trying to promote ... care during pregnancy that helps identify and manage conditions that contribute to premature birth," said Debbie Atchison, Southeast Missouri March of Dimes division director.
Atchison, March of Dimes Missouri staff members and volunteers visited Jefferson City, Mo., in February to lobby for the cause. They distributed 200 packets of information to the governor and members of the House and Senate.
Today's dress sale, coupled with other fundraisers and the walk in May, will help the organization reach it's fundraising goal of $39,500.