Local Chapter

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

1993 N/A

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

2002 N/A

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




Special Honors:


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

TEEN March


Art auction at McMorran Auditorium

President’s Ball at Harrington Inn

Wrestling Bear

COIN CARDS (distributed in elementary schools)

Lightbulb Sale

Jail and Bail

Mothers March

Bread Sale

Auxiliary Bake Sale

Peanut Sale


Project Hair Care

WalkAmerica / March For Babies

Port Huron Motorcyle Race

Reading Champions

Blue Jeans For Babies

Golf Outing

McMorran Garage Sale

X-mas stocking  picture sales


Signature Chefs Auction

American Chopper Raffle