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Falcons rally for March of Dimes, premature babies

By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD Thirty-three years ago Damon Markiewicz was born six weeks premature, weighing only two pounds, two ounces and with only a two percent chance of survival.
How did he make it? "Somehow, I rallied," he told Reminder Publications.

"There are more babies being born premature now than last year. We want to do as much as we can for the cause."
Kristin Introvigne, division director for the Western Massachusetts March of Dimes

Now Markiewicz, a member of the Western Massachusetts March of Dimes Board of Directors and manager of media relations for the Springfield Falcons, and those within the organizations are rallying for all the babies. The board and the Falcons have promoted an aggressive fundraising and marketing campaign for the March of Dimes and its annual Pioneer Valley Signature Chefs Auction on Nov. 2.
"There are more babies being born premature now than last year so we want to do as much as we can for the cause," Kristin Introvigne, division director for the Western Massachusetts March of Dimes, said.
She added the fundraising goal is $60,000, $15,000 more than last year.
"Times are tough for everybody but the babies still need our help," Introvigne said.
She explained that March of Dimes relies heavily on community-based businesses and organizations such as the Falcons to aid their efforts.
"We have two board members from the Falcons, [Markiewicz and Carole Appleton, assistant to Falcons general manager]. They've been instrumental in [planning, promoting and donating to] this event," Introvigne said. "Our foundation is completely volunteer based and without volunteers such as the Falcons we wouldn't be as successful as we are now."
Appleton noted the Falcons have also named an ambassador and spokesperson for this year's Chefs Auction, defenseman Jake Taylor, who will soon be a father himself.
"I am proud to be associated with the March of Dimes and I look forward to helping out any way I can during the year," Taylor said. "The March of Dimes does a lot of great work for kids in the area and it's an honor the Falcons have asked me to be a part of such a great organization.
"My wife and I are expecting our first child in late October and as soon to be proud parents, we both realize and understand how important it is to have people helping raise money to make sure all babies are born happy and healthy," he continued.
The March of Dimes Pioneer Valley Signature Chefs Auction will take place on Nov. 2 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Eleven area restaurants will participate including Caf Lebanon, Pazzo Ristorante, Spoleto Restaurant and The Log Cabin/Delaney House. There will also be a vodka tasting station courtesy of V-One Vodka.
Live and silent auctions will take place for items such as private dining experiences from local restaurants; tickets to "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in New York City; a Boston Red Sox jersey autographed by Kevin Youkilis; a weekend stay in Newport, R.I. and more.
For more information about this year's March of Dimes Pioneer Valley Signature Chef Auction, visit their Web site at www.marchofdimes.com/ma or call 525-1070.


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