When sophomore Joshua Hoffman gave his first speech at 4 years old, his mom wrote him just one line to say. But don’t let that deceive you. By the time he was 7, the March of Dimes selected Hoffman as a national ambassador, traveling to 20 states and more than 60 cities to speak in front of thousands of people to raise awareness about premature births.
“I would go to different events around the country, give speeches and meet some amazing people,” Hoffman said. “I even got to meet the president [Obama] in the Oval Office.”
The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization rooted in supporting babies born prematurely. Through donations and fundraisers, the organization strives to improve the health of mothers and babies through conducting medical research, educating pregnant women and advocating for government reforms.
Hoffman first got involved in the March of Dimes at just 4 years old when he was selected to give a speech at an event in Fort Lauderdale. “My mom wrote down the one line I had to say and put a $20 bill in my pocket,” Hoffman said. “I went up on stage, pulled the $20 bill out of my pocket and said ‘Here’s my contribution from my piggy bank to help save more babies like me.’ ”
Realizing he had a passion for public speaking and a drive to do more for the cause, Hoffman happily accepted the offer to represent the March of Dimes as the Broward County local ambassador.
In 2009, Hoffman attended a state event in Orlando. From there, the March of Dimes contacted the national office, nominating Hoffman for a spot as national ambassador of 2010.
“I was really honored to represent the March of Dimes since I was saved by them and amazed to be able to advocate for others as well,” Hoffman said. His achievements didn’t come easily. Having a vision impairment due to his being premature, Hoffman could not read off of the podium during speeches. “I had to memorize these 10 minute speeches and give them in front of thousands of people,” Hoffman said.
However, representing the March of Dimes meant more than giving speeches and traveling the nation. Hoffman also got to sing in front of a hundred thousand people in an Alabama country musical festival called BamaJam.
While his term as an ambassador has come to an end, his spirit and dedication for helping others has not. “I found out about this youth council that the March of Dimes has in college. Hopefully, I’ll be able to join that and continue to advocate for preemies and make sure that all babies are born healthy,” Hoffman said.