What A Great Time We Had At The Texas Motor Speedway! We Raced The FedEx #11 March Of Dimes Car!

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

Hi everyone!  You might have seen me on Fox or ESPN this past week!  I was in Dallas at the Texas Motor Speedway with the March of Dimes FedEx #11 racecar to help tell people about March of Dimes special 75th Anniversary and March for Babies!  Thanks to FedEx, my family and I got a chance to meet Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, and Danica Patrick!  They even made a special racing fire suit just for me!

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That’s me with FedEx Racing drivers Brian Vickers and Denny Hamlin during pre-race ceremonies for the Texas NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Brian did a great job driving the special FedEx Office/March of Dimes car in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. I was so proud to cheer on the FedEx #11 car to support March for Babies walks happening across the country this month!!!

I was also rooting for our new friend, Danica Patrick . I was hoping we’d come in first and she’d be right behind us in second place!! Danica is an amazing role model for girls like me. She truly showed me that I can be anything I want when I grow up if I never give up, continue to work hard, and always drive in the fast lane towards my goals!!!

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Not only did my family and I get to meet famous drivers and Mr. Joe Gibbs and his special race team – I got to be announced with Brian Vickers before the race!  They even let me ride around the track!  This was an experience I will never forget.

Million thanks to FedEx, the race fans,  and everyone there in Dallas!  Thank you for helping to save babies!

 

Here are some of the interviews we did for March of Dimes and March for Babies!

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Hello Race Fans! We’re Gearing Up To Join The FedEx/No.11 Team In Dallas!

Written by Dina Melchiorre

Thank you, awesome race fans!  A few weeks ago, @FedEx asked fans to vote for their favorite @MarchofDimes paint scheme for the upcoming @NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas. Nearly 30,000 votes were cast, now see the car revealed in time-lapse!

Video of the 2013 FedEx/No 11 March of Dimes car!

My favorite -  car design #1 won!  I will get the chance to see the car and cheer on the FedEx/No.11 team at the race this Saturday at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas!  My family and I will be giving a special thanks to the FedEx team, Joe Gibbs Racing, and everyone else we meet who are helping tiny, sick babies grow up to be healthy and strong - just like me!

March for Babies walks are happening all over the country this month. Join the FedEx/No.11 team by visiting marchforbabies.org/team/FedEx11
and help make a difference today!!!

A Mother and Daughter Tour of Connecticut !!

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

I was so excited for my first mother and daughter trip to Connecticut. Once we arrived in Connecticut we met Leigh-Anne Lefurge, Connecticut State Director of Communications. Leigh-Ann brought us to UConn Health Center to show our appreciation to their NICU Staff. We met the Pallone Family, and their beautiful 3 year old daughter Kendall. Kendall was such a happy baby, with a smile that lit up the room!!

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The following day was full of exciting TV and radio interviews to promote March for Babies and the celebration of the March of Dimes’ 75 Anniversary. First, we had a live interview on FOX CT Morning Show, followed by a Clear Channel Radio interview with Renee DiNino on Community Access. Last but not least, we had a live interview on NBC Connecticut. 392897_426225957461813_50175110_nO

One of my favorite visits was the Aetna Kickoff and 75th Anniversary Cake Decorating Contest! My mom and I, along with Irene O’Conor from WFSP (CBS) TV and the CT 75th Anniversary Ambassador, LT. Paul Vance of the CT State Police, were the judges for the cake contest! After we handed our votes in I went on stage and announced the winner!!

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Before heading back to Ohio, we had one last time at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. My mom and I showed our appreciation and gave a huge thank you to their NICU Staff, who are doing an amazing job at helping babies everyday. We had the privilege of meeting the Greater Hartford 2012 Ambassador Mom, April Boccasile, who is also a NICU nurse at CT Children’s Medical Center. My mom and I had so much fun in Connecticut and wish we had more time, but I’m pretty sure dad needs our help back home with Nick and Mia!! Keep following my blog I have a good feeling our next visit is going to be HUGE!!! Until next time everyone.

 

 

 

 

The New England Collaboration

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

Our New England Collaboration tour began with the Vermont March for Babies Kickoff! We had the honor to meet The Matthew Family, the 2013 Burlington March for Babies Local Ambassadors. This year Harriet, Barney, and their children Grace and Luke will participate in their 4th walk in honor of their beloved son, Sam (Luke’s twin brother). Then, at GE Healthcare in Southern Burlington we joined The Matthew Family again and thanked over 40 GE employees for their continuous support for the March of Dimes.

Next, we drove to Salisbury Vermont where we met, Jen Sheldrick, owner and operator of The Maple Meadows Farm, and her family. Jen gave us a tour of the farm and taught us how her family makes their delicious maple syrup! Jen started walking for the March of Dimes when she was 9 years old and was the top walker in Rutland VT in 2011 and 2012!

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Shortly after, we headed to The Rutland Regional Medical Center. The Rutland March for Babies Chair, Mark Alderman, Melissa West, the RRMC team captain, and the entire RRMC team gathered together and gave us a warm welcome. The RRMC started walking in 2012 and since then have recruited a team of 20 walkers and have raised $25,000. Congratulations Team RRMC !!!

Before we knew it, we were on our way to GE Aviation Rutland VT. Another 30 GE employees, including Dan DiBattista the 2010 and 2011 Rutland MFB Chair, came together to show their support for stronger and healthier babies. Their team already has over 70 walkers and has raised close to $10,000. Thank you Dan and The GE Aviation Rutland Team!!!

We ended our tour of Vermont at The Dartmouth Hitchock Medical Center Kickoff. The DHMC and its internal Children’s Hospital are major supports for the NICU Family Support Program. At the kickoff, my mom shared our story and was given the opportunity to give support, love, and hope to many mothers experiencing the difficulties of premature birth.

The next day we started our tour of New Hampshire at Hannaford Supermarket. The Hannafords throughout NH are running in store cut-out campaigns to raise money for the March of Dimes. Our friend and amazing supporter, Baby Melvin, is a great motivation for the Hannaford employees. The store that raises the most amount of money each week earns the right to have their manager show off Baby Melvin!

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At, GE Aviation in Hooskett NH over 100 employees participated in their March for Babies Kickoff. The year this GE team is working extremely hard in order to reach their goal as a top fundraising team. photo-9

A New Jersey Celebration

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

My dad and I had very exciting and long week in New Jersey. On Tuesday, we started our tour in South Jersey. First, we helped top teams like Boscovs and Kmart kickoff the fundraising season. At Boscov, I met an amazing mom, Angela Christman. Angela has a daughter named Gianna, who was born premature just like me. I wish I could have met Gianna, but she was in school. So I made sure to give her mom a special ambassador card signed with love from me.

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Next, we stopped at Kennedy Health System for a delicious lunch with CEO Martin Bieber and tour of the NICU. We ended our day with a visit to SouthJersey Healthcare. So many high ranking business men and women from Cumberland County, such as CEO Chester Kaletowski, VP of Pediatric Care Services Anne McCartney, and Neonatologist, Dr. Muhammad Anwar, joined together to show support and thanks for the March of Dimes.

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First thing Wednesday morning we went to visit our friends at Bayshore Recycling Company. President and CEO of Bayshore Recycling, Valeria Montecalvo, recently accepted the role of Middlesex City March for Babies Chair. She also set a goal of $100,000. After meeting her team I truly believe they can do it. Of course my favorite member of the Bayshore Team is Pearl!!!

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The Mercer County Government kickoff was our next stop. County Executive, Brian Hughes spoke about his premature brother and personal connection to the March of Dimes. After, my father and I were able to share a little about our story.

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Help Pick Denny Hamlin’s FedEx #11 March of Dimes Car!

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

As National Ambassador one of the cool things I get to do is help pick this year’s design for Denny Hamlin’s FedEx #11 March of Dimes car for the Texas race! The best part? You can vote too! http://bit.ly/ZGbSE0

 

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NYSE Closing Bell Ceremony

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

 

The following week my family and I flew into NYC for the New York Stock Exchange Closing Bell Ceremony! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, a few blocks away from Madison Square Garden. New York City is always fun to visit. Thursday morning we went to visit two Kmart locations, the Penn Station Kmart, and the Astor Place Kmart. The District Manager, Steve Offutt and his staff joined us to celebrate the March of Dimes 75th Anniversary and Kmart’s long commitment to supporting our mission. Kmart employees are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met. They are always excited to meet my family and motivated to help. I am so grateful for them!

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After lunch we headed to the NYSE Closing Bell Ceremony to kick off the March for Babies fundraising season! Everyone was wearing there fanciest outfits, which is always exciting for me since I love to dress up. My family and I joined Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, the March of Dimes President, Bill Fitzgerald, National Chairman of 2013 March for Babies, and the top volunteers, to ring the closing bell. Dr. Howse and I hit the gavel as hard as we could! I felt like a judge in court. From the podium I could look down and see all of our supporters cheering us on. This is an experience I will never forget! As national Ambassador I hope I can help other babies from being born too soon.

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HOME OF THE RAVENS!

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

As many of you may already know, I recently celebrated my eighth birthday! This birthday was very special because I was able to celebrate it during my travels as the 2013 March of Dimes National Ambassador. On my birthday I flew in to Baltimore, Maryland. My dad grew up in Baltimore and is a HUGE Ravens fan! You can imagine how excited he was to wear his Ravens’ gear everywhere we went. The Baltimore chapter had an amazing birthday celebration set up from me at Sammy’s Trattoria! I was so surprised to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all there to wish me a Happy Birthday. This meant so much to me because I don’t get to see them a lot while I’m on the road. The food was delicious!! Sammy and his staff were so excited to learn more about the March of Dimes and ways they can join our mission.

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The next morning we headed to Kmart 3517 to meet the Baltimore District Managers and March for Babies Team Captains. My family shared our story and then listened to all the ways they plan on raising even more money than before. Kmart is a national sponsor of the March of Dimes and have already raised $100 million! Even at eight years old I know that is a huge accomplishment!!

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After Kmart, my dad and I headed over to 100.7 The Bay and rocked out with DJ Klug. Klug and his March for Babies Team, Team Awakening are dedicated supporters of the March of Dimes. Just like my dad, Klug is a father who understands the struggles of premature birth and therefore, lives by our mission to helping babies.

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On our last day we joined the Baltimore Chapter for their March for Babies Kickoff, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel! We were able to meet and most importantly thank the top fundraising teams and sponsors! They were all so proud to have Baltimore natives as the 2013 National Ambassador Family. We joined them for a delicious breakfast and before we knew it we were headed to our last visit in Baltimore.

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Joe Gordon, MDNCAC Board Chair; Jessica Klug, Awakening Team Captain; Co-Chair Family Team’s Committee Bernie and Pat Schmidt, Long-time top walkers

 

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Deanna Figiel, Division Director; Anne Eder, Director of Program Services; Heather Lynch, Community Director Harford County; Maria Pokraka, Director of Program Services; Melissa Buchanan, NICU FamilySupport Specialist; Natasha Moulton-Levy, Community Director; Tina Cavucci, Chapter Director; Rick Wehmer, GE Aviation, March for Babies Chair, Greater Baltimore; Jennifer Tarr, Director of Special Events; Allyson Yospe, Director of Field Services; Joe Gordon, Maryland-National Capital Area Board Chair

Before heading home, we went to visit Franklin Square Hospital. For the very first time I was able to view the babies in the NICU. All babies are small but I never imagined them being so tiny. There was one baby that my mom said was the same size as me when I was born! I couldn’t believe I was once that tiny and fragile. I said a prayer for all the babies and felt very honored to be the National Ambassador. 

 

 

Last stop in Ohio…CLEVELAND !

Written by Arlana Carcaterra

We came into Cleveland in a BIG snowstorm! The local March of Dimes leader Laurie Meadows met us and we went to the coolest restaurant, 100th Bomber. It was right next to the airport in Cleveland so we could see the planes take off out of the window!

The best part was meeting all of the very special United staff who hosted us for a delicious dinner. A really nice lady from United named Jenn Parks organized the whole party with pretty decorations and goodie bags. She made sure us kids got tons of great presents. We wore our United headbands all night! It was funny. We took pictures in a pretty room with a fireplace with Miss Jenn and Mr. Rich Lisser. Mr. Lisser runs United at the airport and he was so great to us.

I was glad my family was able to tell my story and say THANK YOU to United, the official airline sponsor of the National Ambassador program. United has been helping the March of Dimes even before I was born. That’s a lot of babies they have helped save. Here are some photos of our new friends from United.

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That night we stayed at the world’s prettiest hotel – the Ritz Carlton! They are good supporters of the March of Dimes. They had lots of treats and toys for us – they even brought us milk and cookies to our room. My Mom and Dad thought this place was awesome too! Our host Kelsey made sure everything was just perfect for us. Everyone was so nice.

The very next morning we went to Normandy High School and got the best surprise! The volunteers and students hosted a big pep rally. We walked into an auditorium full of students, a marching band and cheerleaders cheering for us! The Mayor of Parma even came to give our family a proclamation! That was a first! And a very good singer Emmanuel McCord who went to the school sang a very special song for me. It made my Mommy and all the grownups cry.

Then we went to be on TV at the NBC studio in Cleveland. This on-air team was really funny. They were nice to us because they help with March for Babies in Cleveland and both of the hosts have little babies.

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Next we went to see the Ford Motor Company team in Brookpark, OH. Everyone was so nice to us and we learned they help raise a lot of money for March for Babies! It was really great to meet the site leader, Charlie Binger who is a volunteer for the March of Dimes in Cleveland.

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Next we got a great view of the whole City of Cleveland and Lake Erie from the top of a building at Tower Terminal thanks to Forest City Enterprises!

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Later that night we had a great dinner at La Dolce Vita! We shared big plates of spaghetti, bread and chicken with other ambassador families, March of Dimes board members and March for Babies team leaders! We met a really nice girl named Sarah and her Mom Lori Feist and stepdad John. Sarah was also a preemie like me! Everyone had fun at dinner and we had cannoli for dessert! It was a great ending to a perfect day!

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Happy Birthday Nina!

Written by Yuni

Eight years ago, Nina Centofanti was born nine weeks early – so small and fragile, she needed help to survive and thrive. See Nina’s very powerful and inspiring story! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIToiqEeMXg

Please share with your friends, family and colleagues today!