Plans for the annual March of Dimes walk got into full swing last week as students from Utah County set fund-raising goals.

The March of Dimes will sponsor three WalkAmerica campaigns in Utah County, raising money to prevent birth defects. The 12-mile walk has been an annual event since 1970.Students had a chance to meet Jeremy Licht from the television show "The Hogan Family," who was on the first leg of visits in Utah. "Did you know that babies born in Hong Kong and Singapore stand a better chance of living through one year than babies in the United States?" he asked.

Licht's first involvement with the March of Dimes program was a twister tournament in Anaheim, Calif. Since then he's been one of several celebrity ambassadors for the foundation.

Alan Hague, general manager of Rock 103 and statewide walk chairman, told students about the danger of alcohol and drug use during pregnancy and the birth defects such behavior has caused.

Also on hand was Utah County's ambassador, Adam Daines, 5, son of Alan and Carol Daines of Mapleton. Adam was born with spina bifida, the most common birth defect of the more than 3,000 that the March of Dimes deals with.

The Daines have four children. The oldest two, ages 9 and 7, were

Please see WALK on B2

born with no birth defects. After Adam was born, the Daines were told there was only a 3 to 4 percent chance that another child would have the ailment. While Carol was pregnant with their son Tyler, tests revealed that he had the ailment also.

The parents opted for a Caesarean birth, which may have saved Tyler from some of the problems Adam has experienced. Carol Daines said she was in labor 15 hours with Adam, and that may have made his current condition more severe.

Problems such as these are the ones the March of Dimes is trying to cure throughout the country. In Utah, the Baby Your Baby program is a state-funded effort that has enabled 2,000 women per year, who normally wouldn't seek any help during pregnancy, to receive prenatal care.

The March of Dimes lobbied the State Legislature to provide those funds. "One of the easiest ways to prevent birth defects is to get women to take care of themselves while they're pregnant," said Dee Brewer, communications director for the Utah chapter of the March of Dimes.

The three Utah County 12-mile (20 kilometers) courses will be in Provo, American Fork and Spanish Fork. Volunteers will seek pledges from donors who pay the volunteers for each kilometer or mile walked.

Pledge forms will be available by the end this week at public schools, Little Caesar's Pizza and 7-Eleven stores.