November was Prematurity Awareness Month and local chefs teamed with March of Dimes supporters to make a big impact for little babies.
As befit the 75th anniversary of the March of Dimes, 350 people gathered at The Broadmoor to raise $130,000 to continue the mission of improving infant and maternal health and having strong and healthy Colorado babies.
Sipping choice vintages, those enjoying the Signature Chefs Auction sampled cured duck with braised cabbage and remoulade; shrimp and grits tartlet; sweet potato fritters; pineapple ceviche; chocolate truffles; bison short ribs with apple pepper maize, sage pesto and amaranth-leek crisps and other treats.
Speaking of treats, the Best of Live 75 raffle lived up to that description. Tickets were purchased for $75 and the winner, Teri Ferguson, had her choice of any of the trips and meals in the live auction. There were two exclusions: a Todd Helton bat and a Taylor Swift guitar. Everything else was fair game. Her choice: a trip for four to St. Lucia Resort.
Board member Gary Tedder's donation of a One Republic guitar from his son, Ryan, a member of the group, was the catalyst for a heavy-duty bidding competition between two female attendees.
Meanwhile, two lively youngsters were dancing around the floor by their table, hugging their stuffed animals and blankies, visiting with Air Force Academy cadets and yelling "Opa" every time they heard the chant from the Jake and Telly cooking team. Before they collapsed in the arms of grandparents, Blake and Emma Weber were featured as the evening's ambassadors. Emma was just over 2 pounds when she was born 13 weeks early and was in the NICU for 10 weeks. Mom Kimberly couldn't hold her firstborn for three weeks. Now Emma is in preschool. Little brother Blake was born healthy.
Some of the statistics shared by Moyra Hower, March of Dimes of Southern Colorado Division director, brought home the reason for the annual fundraiser. One in 10 Colorado babies are born prematurely, which has a $57 million annual price tag in El Paso County. In Colorado, six babies die each week before they reach their first birthdays.
So much has been accomplished, but there's more work to be done, said Hower.