Seventh-grader raises $763 for March of Dimes

Published 9:25 am Friday, May 6, 2011

FRANKLIN—Brittni Baker and Susan Underwood will never meet.

J.P. King Middle School student Brittni Baker is making a one-person effort to raise $1,000 for March of Dimes, which will have a walk at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22, in Franklin. -- Gwen Albers | TIDEWATER NEWS

That’s because Susan Underwood — whose grandmother lives next door to Brittni’s grandmother in Portsmouth— died in 1973 at age 12 from spina bifida. Incidentally, that’s Brittni’s age, and her current mission is to raise money for March of Dimes to help children like Susan born with birth defects.

“Babies can’t help when they are born with diseases, so they should have a chance to live,” Brittni said.

She hopes to reach her goal of $1,000 before the March of Dimes walk in Franklin at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at Barrett’s Landing. As of Thursday — after spending most of her spring break going door-to-door — Brittni had raised $763.

“I’m amazed,” J.P. King Middle School teacher Patti Rabil said about Brittni’s effort. Rabil is overseeing the March of Dimes fundraiser at the school, where Brittni is a seventh-grader.

“I’m so proud of her,” Rabil said. “She’s taken it upon herself to do this and gave up most of her spring break.”

Brittni’s mother, Starla, is also proud of her daughter.

“She came home from school and said this was something she really wanted to do. I said ‘I’ll help you,’” Baker said. “Her (initial) goal was $200.”

She didn’t want Brittni to go alone, so with siblings Briane, 6; Brode, 4; and Brinn, 2, in tow, Baker watched as her oldest daughter hit about every neighborhood in Franklin.

“I would stay three or four houses down to give her her space,” Baker said. “I don’t think there’s a neighborhood in Franklin whose doors haven’t been knocked on.”

“We have gotten to neighborhoods and spent from 4 to 7:45 p.m. doing this,” she continued.

Brittni, who is also the daughter of Brian Baker, wrote down the addresses of everyone who donated and plans to send them thank-you notes. Brittni even got donations from her 17-year-old brother, Joseph’s, friends.

For the walk, Brittni’s grandmother, Dianne Baker, is putting together a poster with photos of Susan Underwood for Brittni to carry.

Anyone wishing to donate to the effort can reach Brittni’s mother at 377-7576.