Pictured: Dr. Nirupama Patel, left, is pictured with March of Dimes Community Director Debe Holt, who presented the pediatrician with an award for being this year's top walker in Alice. Photo by NICOLE D. PEREZ

Patel named top walker; Alice exceeds goal

Nicole D. Perez, Alice Echo-News Journal

Teams who participated in this year's March of Dimes WalkAmerica event were recognized with a luncheon last week hosted by CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Alice.

For the third year in a row, Dr. Nirupama Patel was the top fundraiser having raised $11,000 this year.

The Morris Miracle Marchers were named the top family team for the Alice walk.

"Our mission was completed very well this year," Dr. Patel said. "I hope every year we have the success we had this year. Alice is known for good people and they are showing it."

Dr. Patel is an active supporter of the March of Dimes, the goal of which is to eliminate premature birth, because her daughter was a preemie. She is now a fourth-year medical student.

Margot Rios, chief nursing officer with CHRISTUS Spohn Alice, served as the revenue chairman for this year's walk. She said the fundraising drive was successful this year.

Debe Holt, community director with March of Dimes, said volunteers exceeded this year's goal of $40,000.

"Once again you went above and beyond," Holt said at the luncheon.

"This year was the biggest walk we hade in Alice. You guys deserve the kudos."

The March of Dimes is spearheading new research on genetic birth defects, gene therapy, mental retardation, heart defects and the causes of preterm labor.

Thirty-two grants, totalling $5.7 million, were given to Texas scientists to research the causes of premature birth and birth defects.

WalkAmerica is held each April in Alice.

Other teams and businesses recognized at the event included Halliburton, Bradfords Motor Cars, Wal-Mart, H-E-B, Carlisle Insurance, Alice High School Junior ROTC and FCCLA, Allstate Insurance, Brite Star, State Rep. Yvonne Gonzalez Toureilles, Spohn Hospital Alice and Kleberg, Del Cielo and more.