Annual ‘March for Babies’ parish campaign begins

Michael Tortorich
Jenny Heroman of EATEL introduces March for Babies Chair Glenn Shaheen during the event kickoff luncheon Friday at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales.

Glenn Shaheen somberly read through some grim statistics when it comes to birth defects and premature births.

The 2010 March for Babies chair for the Ascension Parish area concluded that healthy babies is not only a concern for everyone in the nation, but of special interest to Louisiana and the parish.

The state received a grade of F and the nation a grade of D, according to a 2008 study that Shaheen cited. According to the March of Dimes, premature birth is the most urgent infant health problem in the United States, as it affects more than half a million babies each year.

“As you can see, there’s still lots of work to do,” Shaheen said during the kickoff luncheon for the annual March for Babies Gonzales event.

Shaheen, a resident of Gonzales and a native of Donaldsonville, is the CEO of Glenn Shaheen and Associates.

As revenue chair, Shaheen heads a group hoping to top last year’s total of $105,000. The goal of $107,000 for this year will go toward March of Dimes research and community programs to help mothers have full-pregnancies and babies to begin healthy lives. March for Babies is the organizations biggest fundraiser.

This year’s event will be April 17 at the American Legion in Gonzales at 8:30 a.m.

Jenny Heroman of EATEL served as hostess for the kickoff event, held at the Holiday Inn in Gonzales, and introduced Shaheen to the luncheon crowd, which included several community and business leaders.

Shaheen’s company – along with EATEL, Rubicon, BASF, Motiva, St. Elizabeth Hospital, Williams Olefins, Air Products and United Community Bank – are among the biggest sponsors for the event.

Shaheen said he and his business have been involved with the March of Dimes event over the years because it affects people “right here in our own parish.”

“Most of us can only imagine the challenges those on the front lines deal with,” he said.

Shaheen said he is working with a group of people to brainstorm some possible fundraising ideas.

He hopes to extend a campaign he started during the Lenten season. His company hosted a shrimp stew lunch on Fridays during Lent to raise money. He said three possible sponsors have already been found, but he’s looking for more.

Another idea would be to have a sock hop with local band Na Na Sha. This event could include a jitterbug contest, complete with 1950s style dress.

Shaheen also proposed a golf tournament featuring local celebrities. Teams would bid on celebrities to join their team.

For another idea, the Ascension Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Ascension class would recruit four high school students from parish schools to coordinate campus activities to raise funds.

“Our challenge is to not just meet but exceed our expectations,” Shaheen said.

Businesses and individuals can sign up to raise funds online at www.marchforbabies.org/kickoff2010.

For more local information, or to join March for Babies, contact Stacey Parker at 225-295-0655 or sparker@marchofdimes.com.

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Glenn Shaheen