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Monday, April 22, 2024

Historic buildings glow purple for premature babies

To support March of Dimes’ campaign for Prematurity Awareness Month, two historic buildings in Gainesville will glow purple this week.

The Hippodrome State Theatre downtown lit up purple Sunday evening using its LED lighting system, managing director Jessica Hurov said. She said UF’s Century Tower will also participate in the campaign and glow purple beginning today.

Both will run through Sunday, covering World Prematurity Awareness Day on Tuesday.

Hurov said it is a national campaign in which most of the country’s cities participate.

"A lot of iconic buildings raise awareness for what March of Dimes does," she said. "The Empire State Building does it, for example."

Tammy Dygert, the executive director for the North Central Florida Division of March of Dimes, said last year was the first year Century Tower was lit up for the campaign.

Dygert has a background in theater and said the purple color was achieved using a piece of technology called gel lighting.

"It was a wonderful addition to the month of November, not only for prematurity, but also for raising much-needed funds," she said.

Last year, 100 countries lit landmarks in purple on World Prematurity Awareness Day. The Empire State Building and Niagara Falls both glowed purple last year, Dygert said.

"Premature birth is the No. 1 killer of babies and also the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5," she said. "Most people don’t realize that."

Dygert’s own daughter was a statistic. Thanks to March of Dimes, which developed a treatment called surfactant lung therapy, her daughter is a healthy 8-year-old today.

The Gators March for Babies Walk is Sunday, she said.

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"It’s a great way to show support," she said.

Contact Brooke Baitinger at bbaitinger@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @BaitingerBrooke

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