Four-year-old Devin Knight's first role as the newly named national ambassador for the March of Dimes will be to ride the Farmers Insurance float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1.

Devin, the son of Jay and Charlene Knight, is the first national ambassador from Utah in the March of Dimes' 56-year history. Devin and his family will make several national television appearances and travel across the country to represent the March of Dimes throughout 1995."I don't think Devin fully understands what has happened," Charlene said. "He asked the other day, `so am I famous, Mom?' "

The youngest of four children, Devin was born prematurely in April 1990. He weighed 3 pounds, 5 ounces and had respiratory distress brought on by underdeveloped lungs. During his three-month stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Devin was the recipient of the drug Surfactant.

March of Dimes research money helped discover Surfactant, which was developed just a year before Devin was born. Surfactant is a substance that coats the inside of the lungs, allowing premature infants to breathe more easily.

It was this and other donations the March of Dimes made to the newborn ICU that encouraged Jay Knight to start volunteering.

"My husband got involved right after Devin was born," Charlene said. "We noticed that some of the equipment used in newborn ICU was donated by the March of Dimes, and we wondered how we could ever repay them."

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The Knights have worked locally with the Mother's March, the Teen March and the annual March of Dimes "Jail and Bail."

"We're just delighted to have representation from Utah," said Jean Hatch, division director for the Southern Utah Division of the March of Dimes. "We feel the Knight family will not only be great ambassadors for the March of Dimes but for the state of Utah."

Devin's family will fly with him to the Tournament of Roses Parade. He will also have guest appearances on "Good Morning America" and other TV shows and he will star in a National March of Dimes video. In the next few months, the whole family will also travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Clinton.

"I am glad Devin is young enough so this won't all go to his head," Charlene said. "But we are all really excited."

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