On Saturday, March 27, residents will join together in support of area babies by participating in the annual“March for Babies” at NEO A&M College.

"Helping babies be born healthy is vital to the hope and future of Miami," said Gary Meeks, 2010 March for Babies chairman. "One day, all babies will be born healthy, but we're going to have to walk to get there."

The most urgent infant health problem in the U.S. today is premature birth, according to Meeks. It affects more than half a million babies each year, with the number growing every day.

The March of Dimes issued a "report card" on premature birth, giving the nation a D and Oklahoma an F.

Babies born too soon are more likely to die or have disabilities.

The March of Dimes is committed to reducing this toll by funding research to find the answers to premature birth and providing comfort and information to families who are affected.

"In addition to the fun activities, the walk is an opportunity to teach children the value of volunteering, how their gifts of time, energy and money, no matter the size, can have a big impact when they're part of supporting worthy cause," said Meeks. "And for families of all sizes and ages, supporting the cause of healthy babies is a perfect match."

The kick-off will take place at noon, Wednesday, Feb. 3, at the Community Room at First National Bank in Miami.

To learn how to become a sponsor, a team or an individual walker, contact Roxanne Minnick, community director, at 918-742-0333 or Meeks at 542-7667.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

The walk starts at www.marchforbabies.org. Just visit the website to get started. To sign up by phone, call 1-800-525-9255.