YONKERS, N.Y. – Westchester’s March for Babies got off to a rockin’ start Thursday night in Yonkers.
The March for Dimes kicked-off its annual fundraising walk with a free concert from Bronxville teen and country music phenom Ali Isabella inside Showcase Cinema De Lux inside Ridge Hill.
Dozens of volunteers and community members gathered for the evening celebration, preparing to gear up for a walk that aims to help fund the battle against premature births, infant mortality and birth defects.
In a little over a month, on April 28, thousands of walkers will pound the pavement at Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains in Westchester's March for Babies Walk.
Last year, the event drew more than 5,000 walkers and raised an estimated $475,000 in the process, organizers said. March of Dimes ambassador and Yonkers resident Martin Ball said this year, in what is the 75th anniversary of the organization, the group is raising the bar and aiming to do even better.
“It’s all about being able to help babies thrive and survive,” he said.
And it's not just babies born premature that are helped by the cause, Ball said. The March for Dimes is a champion for all babies, whether they are premature, have problems or are born healthy, he said.
“Anybody that has children or wants to have children or has grandchildren, the March of Dimes affects them,” said Ball, a father whose twins, Martin and Charlotte, were born early and had to spend time in a neonatal intensive care unit.
As part of the kick-off ceremony, Isabella, a 17-year-old rising country music star and March of Dimes Youth Ambassador, treated volunteers to a 45-minute concert.
The Yonkers performance was close to home for the Bronxville teen, a change for a singer who has been performing around the world as part of her sky-rocketing music career.
In 2012, she rose from relative obscurity and became the youngest person to perform at Britain’s Wembley Arena when she opened for country music star Sara Evans and Lonestar. Since then, she has headlines two pre-Grammy parties and saw her debut single “New York City Country Girl” reach number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales Chart.
The song also held a four-week stint on number one spot on the Billboard Country Hot Single Sales charts.
On her website, Isabella said she was looking forward to the chance to serve with the March of Dimes.
“I’m excited that I can give back to my community through my music to help this wonderful organization help babies and families,” she wrote.