story by Sarah E. White, special to The City Wire
ROGERS — Terry and Gwen Matthews once had a plan when it came to supporting causes: They were generous with their money, but not so much with their time.
“We were very charitable people, but we were never involved,” Gwen Matthews said. “Had we not had Beau and this issue we would still be writing those checks.”
Beau, the Matthewses’ third child, was born with trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that is usually fatal in the womb. He lived for 11 days in 2003, prompting his parents to start the Beau Foundation, which is dedicated to helping pregnant women in Northwest Arkansas get prenatal care.
The foundation helped launch three Prenatal Pathways clinics – one each in Rogers, Springdale and Siloam Springs – which provide care for more than 1,400 low-income and uninsured moms each year. In addition to supporting the clinics, the foundation also runs a vitamin campaign to raise funds to give moms-to-be prenatal vitamins.
“The women that we serve often don’t get the proper nutrition,” Matthews said. Dr. Scott Bailey, a local obstetrician who serves on the foundation’s advisory board, said vitamins are “vital to these women” and encouraged the foundation to focus on prenatal vitamins because they can help prevent birth defects and other health problems.
“It’s crucial” that mothers get certain vitamins and minerals while pregnant, Matthews said. “It also helps the mother because what the baby needs to grow, he takes it out of the mother.”
Particularly important for pregnant moms are folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida; calcium, which keeps the mother from losing her own bone to the baby; and iron, which helps both mother and child’s blood carry oxygen.
Matthews said it costs $250 to provide a woman with prenatal vitamins for a year, and to help raise that money this year the foundation offered a raffle that included items such as airline tickets and a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House. People who donated $50 or more to the foundation were entered into the drawing.
Monday (July 9) is the date of The Beau Classic, the foundation’s golf tournament, now in its ninth year. The tournament takes place at Pinnacle Hills Country Club and there are morning and afternoon rounds. Matthews said they are still accepting teams. Sponsorship levels range from $1,000 for a single team up to $7,500. Matthews said many local businesses take part in the tournament.
“It’s overwhelming how generous the community has been,” she said.
She said it’s amazing how much things have changed for low-income pregnant women in Northwest Arkansas thanks to the foundation’s work. She noted that “7,000 women got prenatal health care which means 7,000 babies got prenatal care that maybe wouldn’t have.”
When the foundation started, Bailey told Matthews that one in five women in Northwest Arkansas never saw a doctor while pregnant unless they had a medical issue or to deliver their child.
“There were so many health problems that could have been prevented” by good prenatal care and the use of vitamins, she said.
Matthews encourages others to go on the foundation’s website to learn more, to register online for the golf tournament or donate to the vitamin project. Also don’t forget to “Like” the organization on Facebook.