Club raises money to help prevent birth defects, infant health


March of Dimes Wonder Walk

-- Sponsored by: Bonita Youth Soccer Club, Bonita Springs Middle School and the city of Bonita Springs

-- Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today

-- Location: Bonita Springs Middle School, 10141 W. Terry St.

Healthy young athletes will put on their walking shoes this morning to help sick babies at a first ever March of Dimes event organized by the Bonita Youth Soccer Club.

Soccer club president Antonetta Rodi knew the event would correlate well with her mission to instill good sportsmanship and kindness to others in the league.

“It’s all about kids. That’s what I’ve always been about,” Rodi said.

The March of Dimes organization’s goal is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The monies raised from the walk helps fund research to prevent such ailments in future births.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Bonita Springs Middle School track, soccer players, their family and friends, will come out to celebrate the hard work in earning money for the miniature walk. The three-mile walk around the track represents healthy kids supporting sick kids, Rodi said.

Regina Tuks, with the March of Dimes in Lee County, said without volunteers like Rodi, smaller events like this would not be possible.

“I think it’s great that someone wants to take on their own event … and be a leader in the community,” Tuks said.

“I had two healthy boys, so I joined March of Dimes. I think every mom deserves to hold their baby right away and have a healthy baby,” Tuks said.

The fun day to celebrate includes music and prizes for each participant who raises money.

“I’m trying to make it as fun as possible,” Rodi said.

Anyone can come out to support the event, and the city of Bonita Springs hopped on board by allowing overflow traffic at the Bonita Springs Park and Recreation Center parking lot, and use of bathroom facilities.

Bonita Springs Middle School principal Dr. Ruthie Lohmeyer allowed use of the school’s track for the event.

“It’s just wonderful that she wants to get involved in the community,” teacher and soccer coach Barbara Scarnato said.

And for the participating kids, Scarnato added: “Doing this kind of community service, is helping to prepare these kids to realize other kids aren’t as lucky as they are.”

Rodi invited all the local soccer clubs in the area to the event, but because it’s the first year, she’s not sure what the turnout will look like. She’d like to do a little more each year, and would love to coordinate a miniature Special Olympics event in coming years.

“Every year is going to get better and better,” Rodi said. “It’s a way to keep the kids going over the summer so they stay out of trouble.”

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