More than 650 guests celebrated with 27 St. Louis signature chefs who featured their finest cuisine at the 16th annual March of Dimes annual gourmet dinner auction.  Thanks to them, auctioneer Kim Tucci and sponsors,  more than $310,000 was raised to help save Missouri babies.

    In the past year the state chapter sponsored $4 million in research in Missouri to improve the health of babies, increased newborn screenings to 28 from 5 in 2003, and funded a NICU Support Specialist at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

    “We're embracing the entire family,” emphasized executive director Debbie Kersting, “as we offer support groups, therapies for children, scrapbooking, sibling Saturdays, grievance counseling and more.”

    Honorary co-chairs were Vincent Bommarito Jr. and Thom Sehnert, with Ron and Cheri Fromm the sponsorship co-chairs.   W. Patrick McGinnis, 7-year president and CEO of Nestle Purina PetCare Company, received the Guardian Angel Award.  His exemplary leadership has bettered the lives of thousands of children and served as an inspiration to his employees to donate their time and talent to further the mission of the March of Dimes to give every baby a healthy start.

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