The March of Dimes was originally founded by President Franklin Roosevelt after his personal struggle with polio that led him to create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, better known as the March of Dimes. The foundation’s original mission was to establish a polio patient aid program that funded research for vaccines, which effectively ended the polio epidemic in the U.S.
The name “March of Dimes” was derived from the contemporary radio and newsreel series called The March of Time, which was created by Eddie Cantor as a nationwide fundraising campaign for polio in the week before President Roosevelt’s birthday in January of 1938. During the campaign, pins were sold for ten cents each and thousands of citizens mailed cards and letters to the White House that contained dimes in them to show their support for President Roosevelt and their motivation to fight against polio. Over $85,000 was raised by the end of the week-long campaign – a truly revolutionary fundraiser.
Since the original mission has been accomplished, the March of Dimes now focuses on helping moms have full-term pregnancies and researching problems that threaten the health of babies, ultimately reducing birth defects and infant mortality. According to their website, the March of Dimes “has led the way to discover the genetic causes of birth defects, to promote newborn screening, and to educate medical professionals and the public about best practices for healthy pregnancy,” (Preventing Birth Defects). Recently, the organization has promoted a Folic Acid Campaign to aid with a significant reduction in the number of neural tube defects.
The March of Dimes has been internationally recognized for its Prematurity Campaign that began in 2003, which raises awareness and helps find various causes of premature babies. The nonprofit has chapters and volunteers working in every state across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico that assess local child and maternal health needs and help plan, fund, and carry-out community events that aim to improve the health of mothers and their children. To learn more about the many ways the March of Dimes helps mothers with their pregnancies in local communities across the globe, check out their website here.