By Robert Boyd / Online Editor
By Robert Boyd / Online Editor
The wind threw palm fronds onto the streets and sidewalks of downtown Riverside while spewing clouds of grit through the air.
With morning temperatures never rising above 65 degrees, April 30 was the perfect indoor, in-bed Saturday.
Yet, by 9 a.m., according to Rita Rogers, the March of Dimes Inland Empire division director, approximately 1,400 participants were walking, jogging and running a six-mile track through town in the March of Dimes March for Babies.
When registration tables opened at 7 a.m., a vibrant pedestrian sea in various colored T-shirts poured into Riverside City College’s parking lot B at Magnolia Avenue and Ramona Drive.
Organization teams, family teams and individual participants signed up, raising funds to find cures for birth defects and fight premature births.
Purple, pink and white balloons that bore the March of the Dimes’ colors, flapped against tent canopies where a mostly volunteer staff registered walkers.
Camaryn Crisantes, the March of Dimes co-chair of the family team unit of the Inland Empire division, volunteered at the family team check-in table.
“We’ve had a great turn out,” Crisantes said, a stay-at-home mother of four, hugging herself against the wind.
“In 2009 I went in for my 24 week check-up and ultrasound,” she said, explaining why she joined the March of Dimes. “They told me that my baby’s heart had stopped beating.”
Crisantes chose words like a woman cauterized by repeating her story, but her moist eyes suggested that each telling opened fresh wounds.
“We decided to try again,” she said. “And again, at 24 weeks my baby’s heartbeat stopped.”
Crisantes and her husband tried once more to have a baby, under close doctor supervision.
The doctors watched every week. Between weeks 18 and 24 this baby’s heart slowed then eventually stopped. The cause is still unknown.
For Crisantes, March of Dimes represents hope and it represents change.
“I didn’t like the way the hospital handled it,” she said speaking of the impersonal nature of her visits. “It was wrong.”
Through the March of Dimes, Crisantes raises community awareness and gives voice to mothers’ needs within the Inland Empire.
Walkers also shared a personal purpose.
One team’s white T-shirts bore lavender text across the back reading, “Walk for Khloe, born at 25 weeks on 04-02-11, weight 1 lb, 10 oz.”
Pony-tailed Anabel Castaneda, a 23-year-old part-time recreation specialist for the City of Colton Community Services Department, participated for fun.
“I like walking and running—at least for a good cause.” Castaneda said. Raising a hot dog, she added, “And there’s free hot dogs.”
Around 10 a.m. walkers trickled into the parking lot; most flowed to Kmart’s free water booth.
By 11 a.m. a majority of the participants had returned and were taking advantage of free hot dogs provided by the Knights of Columbus, child identity kits provided by Farmers Insurance, and face painting provided by clowns.
The temperature rose and the wind relented. The biggest problem seemed to be a “misplaced rabbit,” reported by the event’s announcer.
The turnout excited Rogers.
“We expect to raise $500,000 by the time all of the funds are collected,” she said.
As the event wore down, Crisantes smiled. She planned to attend the next March of Dimes event in Loma Linda on May 15.
“I’m walking in that one,” she said with pride.
Crisantes doesn’t have immediate plans to have a baby, but she still hopes for the future, and a cure.