Richland couple walks to raise funds for premature babies

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldMay 2, 2014 

RICHLAND -- There's a Chinese proverb that goes: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For the Brendel family, their walk to a $1 million is going one step, one dollar at a time.

Ten years ago, when their baby, Kate, died after living only three days, Sue and Brian Brendel of Richland promised to help other premature babies by participating in the annual March of Dimes fundraising walk.

"When we explained to our son, Sam, who was just a toddler then, that it was to raise money to help babies like Kate, he said, 'Mom, let's raise a million dollars,' " said Sue Brendel.

With that goal in mind, the Brendels have walked in Kate's memory every year. With their donations, and those from family and friends, they've raised $245,000 for the March of Dimes over the years.

This year they're confident they'll break $250,000.

"That'll put us a quarter of the way there," she said.

Sam, now 13, his sister Morgan, 6, and their parents will be leading Kate's Team on Saturday, walking from John Dam Plaza to Columbia Point and back.

About 1,000 people participate in the annual March for Babies, said Ann Phillip, director of the March of Dimes Mid-Columbia/Central Division.

"Other than corporate donors, the Brendels are our biggest fundraisers. To have a family team raise as much as they have over the years, it's unheard of," Phillip said.

Sue Brendel said the annual walk "is fairly embedded in our lives. It's what we do for Kate. It's a nice way to keep her presence in our lives."

Sam and his sister, Morgan, have made it easy to make a pledge for Kate's Team. Simply go to or substitute /morganbrendel for his name.

Or, to donate to the March of Dimes directly at

Registration for the March for Babies 2014 walk begins at 8 a.m. Walkers will begin their 3.8-mile hike at 9 a.m. with a celebratory party for the walkers with music and food beginning at 10 a.m.

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