Archive for Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tonganoxie family named fund-raiser ambassadors

September 21, 2005

A special babe attended Sunday's Bikers for Babies March of Dimes fund-raiser.

Caidance Sparks, the 6-month-old daughter of Jason and Jenny Sparks, Tonganoxie, was the belle of the ball.

Actually, she was the poster child, photographed with Kansas City radio personality Johnny Dare in promotional pamphlets. And she and her family, which includes 3-year-old sister Allyson, attended the event in style -- as the event's "Ambassador Family."

That's because when Caidence was born, she was three months premature. She spent 39 days in the neonatal intensive care unit at Overland Park Regional Hospital.

And once home, she received services from the Tiny k program.

"They were sent out to monitor her, evaluate her and see what services that she needed," Sparks said.

So when the March of Dimes needed an infant to photograph for the upcoming event, Dawn O'Brien, who heads the Tiny k program, thought of Caidance.

Later the Sparks family was chosen as an ambassador family, which meant a night in a luxury hotel, Chateau Avalon, and spending the day at Kansas Speedway where the Bikers for Babies event was held.

Cori Gilbert of the March of Dimes, said each year an ambassador family is chosen to attend the event.

"We have a family here to put a name and a face to show what happens to millions of families each year," Gilbert said.

March of Dimes funds support research to solve problems related to premature births and birth defects, Gilbert said.

About 5,000 bikers participated in this year's ride and the event raised upward of $400,000.

The Kansas City ride is the largest Bikers for Babies in the nation, Gilbert said. "We are the largest in terms of bikes and the amount of money made."

And though Sunday's event was a special day for the Sparks family, Jason Sparks had a special treat.

His motorcycle had been in the garage since 2001. And for the event, he got it up and running again, and took the 100-mile ride himself.

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