Vikings Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Steve LaCroix and his wife, Sue, served as Honorary Co-Chairs of the "Signature Chefs Auction®" to benefit the March of Dimes on Thursday.
The event brought together the Twin Cities' finest culinary talent and offerings from craft breweries at the Minneapolis Event Center for an evening of fantastic food and fundraising. More than $180,000 was raised, setting an event record.
March of Dimes is committed to helping premature babies by funding research, education, advocacy and programs that help facilitate full-term pregnancies.
It's a cause that is near and dear to the LaCroix family.
"We were both incredibly excited to Co-Chair the 2016 Signature Chefs Auction," Steve LaCroix said. "This annual event brings together business and community leaders for an evening of culinary excellence to support the March of Dimes. Sue, being a former pediatric nurse, saw firsthand how important the March of Dimes' mission is for making sure that babies get the healthiest start possible."
According to the March of Dimes, there are 15 million babies born prematurely worldwide and 1 million who will die before their first birthday each year. Premature birth is the leading cause of infant deaths.
Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn was born three months prematurely and weighed just 3 pounds.
"They didn't give me [much of] a chance to live," Munnerlyn told Vikings.com last spring before participating in a March for Babies walk at Mall of America.
"It's truly a blessing to be standing here talking to you guys," Munnerlyn said, tearing up. "My mom said she didn't think I was going to make it. The doctors didn't think I was going to make it."
Munnerlyn spent most of the first year of his life in the hospital before he was able to go home with his mother. He knows the struggle is real and has joined the fight.
March of Dimes has a goal of reducing preterm birth rate in a state or locality to 8.1 percent by 2020. Minnesota's preterm birth rate is 8.5 percent, earning a grade of "B" on a Premature Birth Report Card.