Weather Forecast


Walk raises awareness of premature births

WORTHINGTON -- As walkers prepared for an afternoon stride around Lake Okabena Sunday, March of Dimes special events coordinator Louise Howard said the Southwest Prairie chapter had met nearly half of its $25,000 fund raising goal. The remainder, she expected, would be in by the end of the day.

Approximately 200 individuals -- from infants to grandparents -- took part in Sunday's WalkAmerica walk around Lake Okabena to raise money and awareness for babies who are born prematurely.

Jessica Noble, of rural Worthington, is a mother to one of those babies. She, along with husband, Joshua, and sons Isaiah, 2, and Mathias, 6 months, were taking part in their first WalkAmerica as members of the Bank of the West team. Mathias was born six weeks early, and the pregnancy forced Jessica to complete bed rest for five weeks prior to his birth.

"He was in the neonatal ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for two weeks," Noble said. "He's our little miracle -- we're just happy he's here today and healthy."

The Nobles were among 15 Bank of the West team members who collectively raised more than $1,000 for the March of Dimes.

"We kind of did it as a celebration for our family," said Noble, whose mother, Sherry Hintgen, works for Bank of the West.

Eight-year-old Joshua Rabke, of Brewster, was walking Sunday with fellow members of the Worthington Cub Scouts. Preceding the walk, troop members participated in the flag raising ceremony in Chautauqua Park.

"It's our thing that we do every year," Rabke said of participating in the walk. "We walk for the babies that are born too early."

According to the March of Dimes, one in every eight babies is born prematurely. Through the WalkAmerica campaign, money is raised to help fund research and education.

The majority of the money comes from pledges team members receive and sponsorships.

Three dozen motorcyclists from the Iron Horse Club of Fulda also took part in Sunday's event. They left Worthington at 12:30 p.m., and returned to the park shortly after 3 p.m.

"They do a ride instead of a walk," Howard said.

Among the motorcycle riders was Curt Endreson, the father of 2004 March of Dimes WalkAmerica ambassador, Riley Endreson, of Alpha.

Riley, his mom, Kris, sister, Emily, and other family and friends making up "The Alpha Girls," on the other hand, were walking. For Kris, it was the third consecutive year she's taken part.

"It's a good cause, and we just like to keep doing it," she said.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330