December 18, 2014
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Cranston first-grader walks for babies in need
Pam Schiff
Herald photo by Pam Schiff
READY TO MARCH: From left, Matt, Rachel, Hannah and Ben are all smiles as they try on their new shirts for this year’s March of Dimes walk.

“Hi, my name is Ben. I’m collecting money for the March of Dimes because me, my brother and sister were born too early. Would you like to make a donation, please?”

Ben McNally has uttered this phrase over 50 times to homes in his neighborhood.

Ben is a first-grade student at Garden City Elementary school, and has already raised enough money to make him a “Top Walker” for this year’s event at Colt State Park on Saturday, April 26, which means he gets to start off the walk.

Ben took the initiative to raise the money on his own. While attending a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) reunion at the Providence Children’s Museum on March 17 hosted by the Rhode Island chapter of March of Dimes, he was given a small cardboard box to collect spare change in. He asked if he could do a fundraiser, and off he started.

Ben and his family have been walking since 2007, when he was just an infant. His mom, Rachel McNally, tells of how they became acquainted with March of Dimes.

“All of my children were born prematurely. It is a huge fluke – there is no genetic connection. Ben was born at 34 weeks, and the other two at 30 weeks,” she said.

Ben was in the NICU for only five days, but he was unable to maintain his body temperature at home and returned for another five days. Hannah and Matt were there longer.

“Hannah was 68 days [she came home on their due date, Aug. 15] and Matt was 70 days – 2-1/2 months total,” said Rachel.

Ben is helping March of Dimes because he knows how much they helped his family.

“They help babies who are born early to be healthy, and they had activities and dinner for us when my brother and sister were in the hospital,” he said.

Team McNally has 10 walkers for this year, and Ben is still raising money.

To learn more about March of Dimes or to make a donation to Ben’s team, visit www.marchforbabies.org/benm.


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