RIVERSIDE, CA--(Marketwired - May 05, 2016) -  American Medical Response (AMR) has chosen to increase its support of March of Dimes, the leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health, by becoming the 2016 and 2017 Signature Sponsor of the Inland Empire March for Babies campaign, March of Dimes premier fundraiser. Funds raised through March for Babies help in the fight against premature birth, now the leading cause of death of babies in the United States. Babies who survive an early birth may have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, and learning disabilities. The United States preterm birth rate was 9.6 percent in 2014, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and ranks among the worst in high-resource countries.

Overall, California, with the highest birth volume and one of the most diverse populations, has the fifth lowest preterm birth rate in the nation at 8.3 percent. In November 2015, March of Dimes released its annual Preterm Birth Report Card and graded California's cities with the greatest number of births, to highlight the serious disparities between communities. The gap is wide in the state. The only California city to receive an "A" is Oxnard, which has the second lowest preterm birth rate in the country at 7.8%. Only Portland, Ore. has a lower rate. Los Angeles, one of the American cities with the most births, has one of the state's highest preterm birth rates at 9.3%. The city of San Bernardino's preterm birth rate is even higher, where nearly one in ten babies is born preterm (9.7% preterm birth rate). Riverside has a slightly better preterm birth rate at 8.6%.

"Supporting March for Babies is a natural fit for our organization," said Doug Key, Regional Director of American Medical Response. "It is our role to serve families in their moment of crisis, but we also believe it is important to be proactive in meeting the needs of the communities that we live and work in. Many of our own employees have been affected by the mission of March of Dimes. Additionally, we transport many of these moms and babies to hospitals that have the level of care that they need, so we see firsthand the fear that is going through these families." 2015 was the first year American Medical Response supported March for Babies.

"American Medical Response is a leader in giving back to our community," said Chris Huyett, Executive Director of Inland Empire Division of March of Dimes. "Doug Key and American Medical Response understand that healthy communities start with healthy families and healthy babies. We are grateful to Doug for his leadership as our 2016 March for Babies campaign chair. We are delighted to announce Renee Colarossi, Regional Director of AMR in San Bernardino, as our 2017 campaign chair."

This year's Inland Empire March for Babies will take place Saturday, May 7 at Rancho Jurupa Park in Jurupa Valley. Registration is free and opens at 8:00 a.m. There will be a short program prior to the three-mile, family-friendly walk, which starts at 9:00 a.m. More than thirty-five hundred Inland Empire residents are expected to walk together to raise over $500,000 for stronger, healthier babies. Directions and parking information can be found on the March for Babies Inland Empire webpage.

March for Babies helps fund lifesaving research and educational programs aimed at improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. March of Dimes recently launched their program "Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait" in hard-hit San Bernardino County. This program is a proven community-driven program to reduce preterm birth.

In 2016, 3 million people will participate in March for Babies events in 500 communities across the United States. Nearly 60,000 people are expected to walk state-wide.

The 2016 March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter, Kmart, and Famous Footwear, Macy's, Cigna, United Airlines, and Mission Pharmacal.

For more information on March for Babies, including to register to fundraise, visit www.marchforbabies.org. Follow us on http://www.facebook.com/marchofdimesca and http://www.twitter.com/modcal #MarchForBabies.

About March of Dimes

Each year nearly 4,000,000 babies are born in the United States and March of Dimes touches each one of them. For more than 75 years, moms and babies have benefited from March of Dimes through research, education, support, and advocacy. March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or for resources in Spanish, nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. A wealth of educational video resources is available on our YouTube channel.

About March of Dimes California

In 2015, the March of Dimes funded 26 research grants totaling $6 million to California research institutions including UC Irvine, UC Berkeley and $4 million to the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University, the first of five national trans-disciplinary research centers. In 2015, March of Dimes legislative advocacy efforts resulted in 8 new bills being passed with a focus on helping all babies have a healthy start in life. More than $300,000 in community service grant funds is being distributed to local California organizations in support of March of Dimes mission. Fundraising events held in California, such as the annual March for Babies® walks, Signature Chefs Auctions®; and March of Dimes Celebration of Babies®: A Hollywood Luncheon; raise millions of dollars to fund research, advocacy, community programs, education, and support for moms, babies and families in our communities.

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Contact Information:

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Williams
March of Dimes, California Chapter
State Director of Communications
(415) 217-6371