OPA lends a hand toward fellow sister’s passion

Molly English

College students are often called to do service work, because of a university group affiliation or as apart of their course curriculum. For sisters of WKU’s Omega Phi Alpha sorority, they have extended their hearts to help a fellow sister pursuer her passion.

A junior from Gallatin, Tenn., Mandi Willard became group leader of the March for Babies team for the March of Dimes walk taking place on Saturday, April 28.

“I am so extremely passionate about the March of Dimes, because of two little people named Gregory Ross Howard and Lydia Irene Sallee,” Willard said.

After Willard’s family experienced a tragic event with the loss of Ross from a premature heart condition, Willard’s aunt gave birth to an extremely premature baby girl named Lydia.

The hospital bills, along with her aunt’s two other daughters, put a financial strain on the family, tugging on Willard’s heartstrings to do something to help.

The full story is on Willard’s blog, thetruejoy.blogspot.org, which is connected to the Lydia Bracelets, pink silicone bands that say “A Little Heart and Soul.”

“I am more than happy to send bracelets through the mail or personally deliver them,” Willard said. “OPA will also have a booth in DUC for the bracelets on Tuesday, April 10 and Tuesday, April 17 from 11a.m. to 2 p.m.”

Orders for the bracelets can be sent to [email protected]

Willard discovered the March of Dimes walk through fellow OPA sister, Scottsville junior Kim Dippolito, because the organization has always been close to her heart. Willard and Dippolito found out at a pre-walk meeting that they were the first WKU affiliation with the walk.

“I wanted to make sure we did something that would not only make an impact on her family, but would also impact people in the same situation as well,” Dippolito said.

After hearing about OPA’s involvement, WKU fraternity Phi Delta Theta joined their team and is planning on walking and handing out water and snacks at the walk.

At the Lydia bracelet booth Tuesday, a sign up sheet will also be available for people wanting to go to the pre-walk game hosted by the Bowling Green Ballpark.

Tickets for the game on April 21 are $10. The game starts at 7:05 p.m., followed by a firework show. A portion of the sales are donated to the Walk for Lydia team.

Anyone can sponsor the team by dedicating $200. By sponsoring, they get a sign along the walk with their business title on the banner. Currently, March for Lydia doesn’t have a sponsor, but several members signed up for the team roster.

The walk on April 28 is at Phil Moore Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m. Any individual who raises $50 on their personalized page will receive a free T-shirt the day of the walk.

Money raised for the March of Dimes not only goes toward research of premature birth, but also research for birth defects and diseases such as childhood leukemia, cystic fibrosis, autism, cancer, Alzheimer disease, spinal bifida, diabetes and congenital heart defects.

“I strongly encourage absolutely anyone to join our team by going to marchforbabies.org — click join a team, type OPA March for Lydia in the search box, and click the pink underlined team name,” Willard said.