Port Huron Division History
1941 – The Port Huron March of Dimes office received it’s charter (then known as St. Clair County Chapter For Infantile Paralysis). The office was located at 1010 Richardson St., Port Huron. The Director name is unknown at this time.
1954 – St. Clair County was one of the historic test sites for the Polio Vaccine Field Trials. Our county was one of approximately 83 counties in the United States to participate in the field trials, and was chosen at random out of those counties with the highest rate of polio.
1957 - The nations 1st Annual Jail and Bail fund raiser was held in an actual jail “cell” at 204 Bard St., Port Huron. The event inception was the result of a “brainstorming” session spearheaded by Mr. Lee Van Dam, disc jockey at WTTH Radio in Port Huron (now known as WPHM), and the presiding Sheriff, William Pettengill.
1963 – Robert P. Gibbs became the Director for the St. Clair County March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. He followed Mrs. Jane Marshall who served as Director since 1960. Prior to that, Doris Baumgartner(?) was the Director but years served is unknown.
1971 – The first SUPER WALK fund raiser , 16 miles, (now know as March For Babies), was held in Port Huron, and was chaired by volunteer Charles “Chuck” Bettinger The first national event was in 1970.
1973 – The March of Dimes Women’s Auxiliary was formed, and Bernice “Bernie” Emerick was elected President. It was, and continues to be, the only March of Dimes Auxiliary in the country.
1977 – Our Reading Champions fund raiser began in county elementary schools.
1978 – The March of Dimes was the first organization in our county to conduct TEEN PREGNANCY & PARENTING CONFERENCES in area high schools. We recruited a panel of professional health educators to participate at each conference.
1992 – Gerald W. Keller became the 3rd Director of the March of Dimes Thumb Division office.
1993 – Jail and Bail was the first to broadcast a live simulcast between Adelphia Cable TV and WPHM Radio, 1380 AM.
1993 – 2005: Pat Acciavatti raised a cumulative total of $ 225,560 as a volunteer prisoner, and received honors as the March of Dimes Top Jail and Bail Prisoner in the country.
2005 – The 1st Annual Signature Chef’s Auction was held at St. Clair River Country Club.
2006 - Hosted the State VLC (Volunteer Leadership Conference) at Thomas Edison Inn, Port Huron. Kathy Bogan, Eastern Regional VP, announced that the Port Huron Division was the 3rd Top Division in the United States according to the EBI formula.
2010 – The March of Dimes National Ambassador Family (Halls) attended the Jail and Bail event.
2011 – July 15, Gerald Keller retired after 18 yrs, and 8 months serving as Division Executive Director. Cathy Martinek hired as new Division Director.
2013 – September 3, Gayle Welser – Community Director, became the employee serving the most number of years at the Port Huron Office (29+).
Volunteers Of The Year:
1993 – Lou Foster
1993 – Dick Phillips**
1994 – Pam Maes
1995 – Julie Boulier
1996 – Patty Wisniewski
1997 – Lorraine Vanderleun
1998 – Marci Fogal*
1999 – Art Reim
2000 – Deborah Maxwell*
2001 – Shelly Piechotte*
2002 – Jan Wyllie
2003 – Jerry Noble*
2004 – Sara Thomas
2005 – Howie Armstrong
2006 - Lee Ann Peart*
2007 – Vicki Vargo
2008 – Jim Goldsworthy
2009 – Vickie Messinger
2010 – Sue Wilhelm
2011 – Sean Michaels
2012 – Pam and Patty Allen
2013 - Dennis Young
* State Volunteer Of The Year
** State AND National Volunteer Of The Year
Lifetime Achievement Recipients:
1992 Margaret “Maggie” Ann Gibbs
1994 Chuck Bettinger
1995 Delores Warner
1996 Lulu Wolven
1997 Don Dodge
1998 Helen Dickinson
1999 Jan Wyllie
2000 Richard “Dick” Phillips
2001 Madoline Alexander
2003 Lorraine Vanderleun
2004 Rob Carson
2005 Dr. Dan Wilhelm
2006 Frenchie Alexander
2007 Rita Lane
2008 Kathy Smith
2009 Robert C. Kempf
2010 Pat David
2011 Elaine Backman
2012 Michael P. McCartan
2013 Ruth Reim
March of Dimes Regional Awards (2), Gerald W. Keller, Division Executive Director
National Volunteer of the Year recipient (1) – Richard “Dick” Phillips
National Outstanding Youth Advisor Award recipients (2) – Shelly Piechotte and Reinette Goldsworthy
2000 – 2013: Marysville Middle School was the Top March For Babies School Team in the State of Michigan.
Fund raisers 1941 – 2013
(in chronological order)
Dimes on downtown street “curbs”
Coin Cannisters in local businesses
Fashion show at st. clair river country club
CHAMPAGNE VALENTINE BALL
Art auction at McMorran Auditorium
President’s Ball at Harrington Inn
COIN CARDS (distributed in elementary schools)
Jail and Bail
Auxiliary Bake Sale
Project Hair Care
WalkAmerica / March For Babies
Port Huron Motorcyle Race
Blue Jeans For Babies
McMorran Garage Sale
X-mas stocking picture sales
Bowling FOR BABIES
Signature Chefs Auction
American Chopper Raffle