Every year, the Long Island Division of the March of Dimes selects what they call a local ambassador family for their March for Babies in East Meadow and Central Islip. These families were confronted with some of the issues that the nonprofit organization is trying to resolve: premature births leading to short- or long-term health problems for babies.
The ambassador families for the 2013 and 2014 walks only live a few miles away from one another in North Bellmore and East Meadow, respectively. Both have two children who are surviving and thriving since their premature births. Those children, however, had some different approaches to raising money and awareness for the charity.
In 2013, the Rubino twins, Lily and Hannah, of Bellmore, were a bit shy at the various events they attended to promote the walk. The now 6-year-old girls didn’t always show how excited they were to be throwing out a pitch at a Long Island Ducks game or leading the walk, according to their mother, Lisa.
Like the Rubinos, Aaron Horwitz, 4, of East Meadow, has also stuck close by his father, Adam, at March of Dimes events he has attended as an ambassador this year. But his brother Jonah, 10, was screaming in excitement when his mother, Christina, told him they would be ambassadors after he got off his bus from Barnum Woods Elementary School.
Regardless of whether they are outgoing like Jonah or more reserved like his brother and the Rubinos, representatives of the March of Dimes said the ambassador children and their families all work hard to accomplish an important goal: raising money to support programs that help mothers have healthy, full-term pregnancies and fund research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies.
“Our hope is always to engage more volunteers and bring awareness to the very important mission that so many Long Islanders and people across the country participate in to help other families so they don’t have to go through such a horrible experience,” Donna Brower, a Merrick resident and community director at the charity, said. “We hope to raise more funds to educate and provide those programs to all of our neighbors here on Long Island and across the country. And we are utterly driven by our volunteers.”
As the Rubinos “passed the torch” to the Horwitz family in preparation for the walks on April 27 at Eisenhower Park and May 4 at Bethpage Ballpark, Brower said, both families reflected on how the March of Dimes has affected their lives.