This is the story of how an idea grew into an event with the help of my colleagues in the dredging industry. It concerns an annual pilgrimage my six sisters and I make to our roots in Charleston South Carolina.
Ten years ago my nephew’s baby surprised us by arriving two months early and our whole family held its breath as little Candace struggled in NICU for 11 days before emerging in good health. Then another nephew’s baby Charlie was born at a mere 28 weeks (12 weeks early) and was in NICU for 50 days. He survived and is now a healthy and happy two years old. We thought all was well until Candace’s sister Niki was born at 35 weeks with an enlarged heart and spent 30 days in the NICU surviving but with many health problems. At 17 months she is now the light and joy of our extended family and especially of the babies’ grandmother my sister Cathy.
The families were helped immensely by the March of Dimes during these ordeals. After they eliminated polio the March of Dimes adopted premature birth as their cause and money collected is used for research and helping families who are struck by this baffling thing.
A major fund raiser is the annual March for Babies held in many communities in every State with individuals and teams collecting for the cause from friends and colleagues.
Charlie’s mother Lindsey is the one who mobilized us. Full of concern for all the “tiny babies and their families” she formed Team Charlie S. to participate in the March for Babies two years ago. She and Cathy collected money through their March for Babies pages and participated in the walks in Washington D.C. For the 2011 compaign two more sisters and I jumped on the bandwagon setting up our own pages with Charlie’s picture on them and asking friends to donate if they could.
I emailed to my colleagues in the dredging industry and donations of from $20 to $100 coupled with kind comments rolled in totaling $495. You can see my page at: www.marchforbabies.org/judithpowers and see the comments our dredging friends wrote.
Our annual Charleston sojourn was at the beginning of April this year and Keena discovered a Babies Walk happening in nearby Walterboro in Colleton County on April 9. We decided to participate in that walk early on a Saturday morning.
Jerry Farmer who regularly visits sand and gravel customers in Walterboro was intrigued by the idea and sent a personal donation to buy us all breakfast after the walk.
The town of Walterboro was started in the late 1700’s by Low Country planters as a place to get away from the humidity and malaria of the swamps along the coast during the summer. My genealogist sister Mary informed us that our relatives George and Eliza Clitherall built a house there in about 1802 so this visit would also be visiting our family history a topic dear to all Charlestonians. (George’s mother was our direct ancestor.)
Another source of walkers was the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at the College of Charleston. My grandfather and two of his friends founded the fraternity in 1904 and when I broached the subject to the chapter president Greg Mangieri the group gladly agreed to help a founder’s family and some set up their own “Walk” pages. Best of all six of the members joined us in Walterboro and walked with us on the pleasant three-mile stroll through in the outskirts of the town. My sister Mary couldn’t participate and Patricia stayed with her. They discovered a great restaurant – Fat Jack’s Grillin’ and Chillin’ – and we and the Pi Kaps joined them after the walk for a great breakfast and conversation with these dedicated young men. (Thank you for the breakfast Jerry!)
It was a small march – maybe 100 people including a large turnout from a fraternity and sorority from the local branch of the University of South Carolina. Amazingly Colleton County collected $41000 for the cause a fantastic achievement for a sparsely-populated rural county.
Many thanks to Peter Bowe Charlie Calhoun Len and Carol Cors David Dent Lourdes Evans Marcel Hermans Chris Houck Marty Klein Cash Maitlen Bubba Savage Nelson Spencer Craig Vogt and John Walsh for your donations and kind notes on my Walk page.
An interesting aside is that our sort-of relative Eliza Clitherall kept a series of diaries (the originals are at the University of North Carolina) throughout her life in South and North Carolina in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s including a detailed description of life in early Walterboro which was life in a summer vacation home: “The houses were of logs merely backed and lined with clapboards. In order to insure social union and cast off etiquette or any approach to luxury the families came to agreement that the houses erected there should be log houses no frame house no iron in the building wooden hinges shingle roofs pegged clothes presses sideboards closets all of clapboard locks only to the rooms storerooms stables.”
None of the original log homes have survived but the town with a population of about 5000 is still a pleasant and historic place.
By the end of April Team Charlie S. had collected $3 575 one of the top 10 in the D.C. area.