Members of the Tucson Young Professionals - TYP - are making it their business to see that babies born in Southern Arizona have the glow of good health.

Tucsonans who want to help can gather three golf clubs and a flashlight and join the TYP Glow Golf Tournament to benefit the March of Dimes on Friday at Quail Ridge Golf Course, 5910 N. Oracle Road.

"This is like grown-up mini-golf. If you have hit a golf ball once in your life, you will be able to play this course," said Corey Owen, project manager for the tournament. He's a three-year veteran of TYP, a nonprofit that is dedicated to attracting, promoting and retaining young professionals in Tucson.

"This will be a great event - and how can you not love supporting something for babies?," Owen said. "Babies can't fight for themselves, so someone has to fight for them."

Owen masterminded the late-night links fundraiser to fit two criteria: an evening activity that will beat the summer heat and something that "pretty much anyone could walk up and do."

He is also hoping the event will help shine a light on all that the March of Dimes does for children, mothers and families locally.

While many people have heard of the March of Dimes, not everyone may be aware of the services it provides, said Jessica Celentano, director of the nonprofit's Southern Arizona Division.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

It facilitates that goal through support of research, which initially led to the development of polio vaccines. Since 1958 the March of Dimes has focused on research into diagnosis and treatments for birth defects and developmental disabilities. That resulted in breakthroughs in prenatal diagnosis of sickle cell anemia, discovery of the genes for Marfan and Fragile X syndromes, and the development of pulmonary surfactant therapy to treat respiratory distress syndrome in preterm babies. About 350 babies in Arizona receive the treatment each year.

The March of Dimes also funded the development of four of 30 tests for inherited disorders received routinely by Arizona babies during newborn screening and has recently been instrumental in helping implement a policy in Arizona mandating that babies aren't delivered before 39 weeks unless medically necessary.

Prevention of premature births in Arizona, which number about 10,660 each year, could result in annual savings of up to $550 million, according to Teresa Spitz, director of communications for Arizona March of Dimes.

Locally, the March of Dimes provides education and information to the public and to health-care professionals and health-care providers including books, pamphlets, online resources and other materials about topics such as healthy pregnancies, prenatal nutrition, the signs of preterm birth and "Dads to Be."

"We would like to be seen as a resource for any parent, grandparent, future parent or anyone with questions about healthy pregnancies and preterm birth," Celentano said.

Donations such as those from TYP not only help fund research, advocacy and education, but help fund March of Dimes grants to the community. Last year it funneled almost $60,000 statewide to organizations such as UMC prenatal education and women's health programs, Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, The Arizona Partnership for Immunization and healthy-pregnancy programs targeting the Native American and Hispanic communities, Celentano said.

Aiding in those efforts through philanthropy is natural for Owen, 30, a native Tucsonan and alumnus of Mountain View High School and Northern Arizona University.

"If you are going to be a citizen of the U.S., you need to do your part. If everyone did their part, it would be a completely different nation," Owen said.

He also considers volunteerism a vital aspect of learning and growth.

"It really helps to open people's eyes and to educate you," he said. "When you get involved with these organizations and you see the people that they help, it puts everything in perspective."

Owen, who works in financial services, strongly encourages other young professionals to explore philanthropic opportunities through Tucson Young Professionals.

"In Tucson, we lose a lot of professionals to other cities in search of better jobs. To have something here that is goal-oriented and still philanthropy-driven is pretty unique and wonderful," he said.

"It is also a great opportunity to network with other professionals and as you develop as a professional, you become a center of influence. To be able to work with other centers of influence that are goal-oriented … is a big deal."

If You Go

• What: Tucson Young Professionals Glow Golf Tournament to benefit March of Dimes.

• When: Friday; 6:30 p.m. registration, 7:30 shotgun start.

• Where: Quail Canyon Golf Course, 5910 N. Oracle Road.

• Cost: $50 per person; $200 per foursome.

• The details: Registration fee includes nine holes of par-three golf; glowing golf balls; dinner with live music and a cash bar; a raffle for gift cards to local restaurants, free golf and other prizes; a putting contest; and a variety of prizes.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at ninch2@comcast.net