FOCH https://www.foch.org Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:40:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Zippity Doo Dah Weekend raises funds, fights cancer https://www.foch.org/zippity-doo-dah-weekend-raises-funds-fights-cancer/ Fri, 27 May 2016 13:50:43 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=5491 Ashley Nolen was leaping about the Kolb’s Dry Cleaning parking lot in Fondren and squealing. And why shouldn’t she? It’s not every day someone gets to fight childhood cancer and win a Honda Fit at the same time. Nolen, a Jackson resident with an aging Toyota, bought a $10 ticket from Friends of Children’s Hospital... | Learn More

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Ashley Nolen was leaping about the Kolb’s Dry Cleaning parking lot in Fondren and squealing.

And why shouldn’t she? It’s not every day someone gets to fight childhood cancer and win a Honda Fit at the same time.

Nolen, a Jackson resident with an aging Toyota, bought a $10 ticket from Friends of Children’s Hospital in hopes of winning the car donated by Patty Peck Honda as part of Zippity Doo Dah Weekend.

Funds raised during the weekend’s events went to Friends of Children’s Hospital, an organization that raises funds for Batson Children’s Hospital. This year, the funds are earmarked for a clean room where life-saving treatments can be mixed for patients at the Children’s Cancer Center at the state’s only children’s hospital.

“I love Batson Children’s Hospital,” Nolen said before learning she, as one of 10 key finalists, had chosen the key to unlock her win. “I do anything and everything I can for Batson.”

The Sweet Potato Queen herself and Zippity Doo Dah Parade founder Jill Conner Browne, second from left, stands with her court.Parade founder, author and boss Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne, was on hand to help give away the blue 2016 Fit. “We thank Patty Peck Honda for this incredible donation to Zippity Doo Dah Weekend,” she said, noting their generosity has stretched back to the parade’s beginning six years ago.

“It’s a great time for a great cause,” she said.

A biohazard clean room, the focus of the fun and fundraising, is an enclosed temperature- and humidity-controlled room that’s free of bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, said Dr. Gail Megason, director of the Children’s Cancer Center. That keeps the possibility of infection to a minimum, which is important for young patients whose immune systems are compromised.

Pharmacy technician Sharon Henderson uses the current clean room at UMMC to mix life-saving drugs.
Pharmacy technician Sharon Henderson  (left) uses the current clean room at UMMC to mix life-saving drugs.

“We absolutely want what is best and safest for our patients,” Megason said. “The hospital has one such clean room for chemotherapy preparation, but it is shared by pharmacists mixing these medicines for adults and pediatrics.

“In the Children’s Cancer Center, we have experienced pharmacists who assist us in verifying chemotherapy doses, mixing the appropriate chemotherapy dose and dispensing the medications in a timely manner.  Our children deserve this service in the Children’s Cancer Center.  We are so appreciative that Friends and the Zippity Doo Dah parade will work to ensure quality services continue for our patients.”

Once the clean room is in place, patients “can get their chemotherapy drugs right here, right now,” said Dr. Melissa Rhodes, a pediatric oncologist with the Children’s Cancer Center who spoke during a Friday news conference held at Batson Children’s Hospital.

Saturday’s Zippity Doo Dah Parade, which included the Jackson State University Sonic Boom marching band and the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales, was led by a crew of about 25 volunteer city sweepers, giving away Mardi Gras beads for donations to Friends of Children’s Hospital.

Children's Miracle Network Champion for Mississippi Hannah Dunaway hands out Mardi Gras beads and takes donations at the parade.Among them was Hannah Dunaway, the 2015 Children’s Miracle Network Champion for Mississippi who’s had more than 40 surgeries at Batson Children’s Hospital for her condition, cystic hygroma, which results in benign tumors in her face and upper body.

“I want to give back to Batson Children’s Hospital to thank everyone for all they’ve done for me,” she said while loading her arm with strings of colorful metallic beads.

The events have, over the years, brought in more than $400,000 to Friends of Children’s Hospital, said Tena McKenzie, executive director of the nonprofit group.

Earlier gifts to Friends of Children’s Hospital from Zippity Doo Dah Weekend include a van for palliative care patients at Batson Children’s Hospital, presented in 2014, and, last year, warming beds for babies who are Children’s Heart Center patients.

For restaurateur Jeff Good, the event was all about the kids. As host of the Sal & Mookie’s Street Carnival, Good said the event is a chance to give the kids of Jackson’s Midtown and Fondren neighborhoods a fun day including pizza- and ice cream-eating contests while raising funds for Friends of Children’s Hospital. “We love every part of this largely collective effort,” he said.

Dr. Melissa Rhodes thanks Zippity Doo Dah Weekend organizers for their efforts to fund construction of the clean room.Ellyn Weeks of Oregon and Carol Ewen of Washington state were dolled up in their queenly best at the start of the parade. “We’ve helped raise all kinds of money for Batson Children’s Hospital over the years,” said Weeks.

“It blesses us to be with a great women’s group,” said Ewen, “and we’re blessed to raise money for a wonderful cause while having fun.”

The Mermaid Queens were out, complete with ensembles highlighted with pastel beehive hairdos and light-up starfish crowns, having fun together while helping children. “The children’s hospital patients are so sweet,” said Tamara Welch of Vaiden. “This cause tugs at my heart.”

Dr. Melissa Rhodes (left) thanks Zippity Doo Dah Weekend organizers for their efforts to fund construction of the clean room.

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Friends’ Over the Edge goes over the top https://www.foch.org/friends-edge-goes-top/ Fri, 27 May 2016 13:46:46 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=5487 Staring down a descent of 14 stories is the stuff of nightmares for most, but for the more than 90 volunteers who raised funds, buckled up and rappelled down the Trustmark corporate headquarters in downtown Jackson, it was a day of dreams. Part of Over The Edge with Friends, a fundraiser for Friends of Children’s... | Learn More

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Staring down a descent of 14 stories is the stuff of nightmares for most, but for the more than 90 volunteers who raised funds, buckled up and rappelled down the Trustmark corporate headquarters in downtown Jackson, it was a day of dreams.

Part of Over The Edge with Friends, a fundraiser for Friends of Children’s Hospital held Friday and Saturday, the group raised more than $173,000, stories higher than the original goal of $100,000.

Friends of Children's Hospital board president Sara Ray gives a thumbs up to rappelling after coming down 14 stories in the Over The Edge with Friends fundraiser.Friends of Children’s Hospital board president Sara Ray gives a thumbs up to rappelling after coming down 14 stories in the Over The Edge with Friends fundraiser.

“We set a goal of $100,000, and at the time, I thought that was reaching high,” said Tena McKenzie, executive director of Friends of Children’s Hospital, an organization that raises funds for Batson Children’s Hospital. “Knowing we reached this, I am stunned.”

Leading the way was Sara Ray, board president of the group, who made her way down with Gov. Phil Bryant and other VIPs including college mascots Rebel, Bully and Seymour Friday evening.

“It was fun!” she said not long after reaching terra firma. “I wasn’t scared at all. I’d do this again!”

Those were the sentiments of many of the volunteers, who loved rappelling once they took that first step off the Trustmark building. Some overcame bouts of fear by going down the building together.

Mary Ellis Cravey, a Madison eighth-grader who signed up to descend the day before, headed down with Tiffany Key, her Child Life specialist at Batson Children’s Hospital. Cravey, a leukemia survivor, took that scary first step, but anyone who can beat cancer can’t let something like the law of gravity limit them.

Did it! Leukemia survivor Mary Ellis Cravey, a Madison eighth-grader, is ready to go again next year.Leukemia survivor Mary Ellis Cravey, a Madison eighth-grader, is ready to go again next year.

Before long, she was a pro.

“Come on, Tiffany,” she yelled, laughing. “You’re so slow!”

Key’s safety gear had locked up, slowing her down.

They were both ready to go back up to head down again if the fundraiser is held next year.

“This was awesome,” Cravey said, “and so much fun. And Tiffany was there with me, just like at the hospital.”

Among the UMMC employees heading downward was Jennifer Stephen, director of critical care and emergency services at Batson Children’s Hospital. “I’m ready to go down the building again,” she said. “I hope they do this again next year.”

Maggie Hanberry, right, and Team Maggie before going to the roof.                                                                                                                    Maggie Hanberry, right, and Team Maggie before going to the roof.

Phil Hanberry was the first of Team Maggie to head from the roof to the sidewalk. A team of friends and family of 17-year-old Maggie Hanberry of Hattiesburg, the crew of five raised some $7,200 and are already talking about recruiting more team members for 2017.

Hanberry’s daughter, Maggie, cancer free since February, came to the Children’s Cancer Center at Batson Children’s Hospital with stage 4 colon cancer.

“I didn’t have any hesitation about signing up,” he said Saturday. “None. Batson Children’s Hospital has been so wonderful to us the past two years. And today’s my 53rd birthday. I’m going to remember 53 a long time.”

Maggie heard about the fundraiser, “and I said, ‘Why not?’ My dad was the first one to sign up on our team, and then my mom and I wanted to do it, too. Then a family friend heard us joking about it and wanted to sign up, and then a cousin.”

Like Phil Hanberry, Duane Dewey didn’t balk at rappelling. “I said, ‘Sign me up,’” Dewey, president of corporate banking at Trustmark. “I was a little more nervous than I thought I’d be, and I’m glad to get down, but I’d do it again.”

“It’s a great hospital,” said Dewey’s wife, Saundra. “It’s an easy cause to support.”

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Friends of Children’s Hospital celebrates 25 years of giving https://www.foch.org/friends-childrens-hospital-celebrates-25-years-giving/ Thu, 26 May 2016 21:13:41 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=5471 When Dr. Owen “Bev” Evans found out he would become chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, he negotiated for just three things – the department’s first computer, its first printer to go with it and permission to create a Friends of Children’s Hospital fundraising group. The computer and printer... | Learn More

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When Dr. Owen “Bev” Evans found out he would become chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, he negotiated for just three things – the department’s first computer, its first printer to go with it and permission to create a Friends of Children’s Hospital fundraising group.

The computer and printer are long gone. But Friends of Children’s Hospital just celebrated its 25th birthday.

Sara Ray, chairman of the Friends board, said the board members who have served over the years are what made this milestone possible. As a community leader, Ray has worked with many charitable organizations.  But, she says, this board of directors is truly unique.

“We really are a working board, because we have so few employees,” she said. “Friends would not have become the organization it is today without the strength of the board members. They are hands-on and involved in every aspect of the organization.  And, most importantly, the interests of the patients and families of Batson Children’s Hospital are the guiding force behind their efforts and decisions.”

Dr. Blair E. Batson, front, UMMC’s first chair of pediatrics, enjoys the 2012 BankPlus Presents Enchanted Evening with, from left, Friends board member Cathy Havens, Friends board chair Sara Ray, Evans, Friends board member Leigh Reeves, Dr. James E. Keeton, former vice chancellor for health affairs and Dr. Rick Barr, chair of pediatrics.The idea for Friends hatched during Evans’ time as assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt School of Medicine. Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, where Evans was a pediatric neurologist, reaped the benefits of an active Friends group that supported many programs at the time he said, including his own salary.

But salary support wasn’t what Evans wanted from these Friends. At the top of his wish list was a new children’s hospital.

The existing building, completed in 1968, was not family friendly, with only one shower on each floor, two patient rooms sharing a single toilet with no locks on the doors, and windows between adjacent rooms. In short, the building lacked adequate space and privacy.

So Evans told Dr. Norman C. Nelson, then vice chancellor for health affairs, that he wanted to build a new children’s hospital. Creating Friends of Children’s Hospital was the first step in that direction.

“There’s not a single children’s hospital in this country that can support itself without community help,” Evans said. “Children cost more to take care of in a hospital. When you are in the hospital, you’ll read a book or watch TV and eat your meal and put the tray over there. A child doesn’t do that. Food’s on the floor, someone has to change them, they don’t want to get their blood drawn. It takes a lot more people.”

Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and board chair of Sanderson Farms, stands next to the trophy given at the annual Sanderson Farms Championship. The PGA tournament generated more than $1.1 million for Friends in 2014.Nelson agreed to build four floors of a new children’s hospital if fundraising could fund the fifth. Evans got to work and his first order of business was recruiting Suzan Thames to be president of the Friends’ board.

Thames, who worked as an audiologist, was also a member of the Junior League of Jackson. In the latter role, she had played a major role in fundraising and planning the Mississippi Children’s Cancer Clinic. At the time, it was the largest signature fundraising project that any Junior League in the country had ever completed.

Evans believed Thames’ enthusiasm and connections would be crucial to getting Friends going. As it turned out, Evans’ timing was not that great and initially, Thames was reluctant.

“It was the night we broke ground on the cancer clinic when he asked me. We had worked so hard raising the money,” said Thames.

She was exhausted, but lucky for Evans, she couldn’t refuse.

When one of Thames’ daughters was young, she suffered from debilitating headaches and no one could figure out what was wrong. They finally landed in Evans’ exam room, where he diagnosed her with a rare condition and treated her immediately.

“I would’ve agreed to jump off the roof of the Children’s Hospital,” Thames said. “I knew I had to help this special hospital and these special children and their families in any way that I could.”

She called him the next day to accept.

Friends board members, from left, Lynn Kriss and Brenda Smith attend a Friends annual meeting with Evans and Thames.When Friends was created, there were a few community-support groups that were fundraising for the hospital piecemeal. Evans’ goal was to “get the friends together.”

“We didn’t want to be competing about fundraising. We wanted everyone to be aware of what everyone else was doing.”

In the spring of 1989, representatives from those groups and many others in the Jackson area were invited to a meeting in the old nursing auditorium on the Medical Center’s campus. Evans pitched his idea for Friends and recalls it being well-received.

Later that fall, 33 people attended Friends’ first general membership meeting, held at Thames’ house. She remembers being “bowled over” that so many people showed up.

The treasurer’s report from that meeting listed cash on hand from membership dues, gifts and interest as $3,025.

Pat Fordice, former honorary chair of Friends, and former Batson patient, Brant Jones flip the switch to light the 2005 Batson Christmas tree.That money was spent launching Friends’ first major fundraising initiative in December 1989, Light-A-Light. Donors honor someone by “lighting-a-light” on Batson’s Christmas tree for $10 or lighting an Eternal Light on the Eternal Light tree for $250. It became an annual event and is the longest-running project for Friends.

As its first year drew to a close, Friends had more than two hundred members and a $44,000 budget. They designated $3,000 to start a new children’s hospital building fund.

At this point, building a new hospital was still a distant goal. Most of the money Friends raised was spent making the hospital more child and family friendly – coffee for each patient floor, decorating the lobby for the holidays and supporting the new Child Life program.

“We were all about helping the children and their families. We were not yet into construction. We knew long-range that would be a goal, but these children desperately needed so much assistance,” Thames said. “It was a desperate need for children who were sick to have a play environment, for their mothers to be able to get a cup of coffee, for their fathers to be able to make a phone call.”

Serving as an important link between the hospital and the public, Friends spent the next few years building a support base – simultaneously raising money for and increasing awareness towards the hospital.

“The more people got involved, the more people that joined our board, the more people who saw the potential and what this could be, the more people wanted to become involved in it,” Thames said.

When plans for a new children’s hospital came into focus in 1994, Friends was able to pledge $175,000 – a sum that took them 5 years to raise and a far cry from the $3,000 they had started the building fund with. The rest of the $1.2 million needed to complete the 5th floor of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children came from the Children’s Miracle Network and other groups raising money at the time.

The Batson hospital was the first of many building projects Friends would support.

No sooner had Batson opened its doors in 1997 than Evans started talking about the surgery center, which now comprises the 6th and 7th floors of the hospital.

Driven by successful new signature fundraising events such as the Enchanted Evening Under the Stars gala in 1999 and the MiracleHome Giveaway in 2003, Friends pledged $1.7 million for the project.

Volunteers encourage bidding on a piece of original artwork during a live auction at the 2005 Enchanted Evening.
Volunteers encourage bidding on a piece of original artwork during a live auction at the 2005 Enchanted Evening.

“That’s when they really came through,” Evans noted. “They realized they could make a difference. There were a lot of lean years, but the board stuck together because people believed it was going to work and it was worthy.”

With newfound confidence in their ability, the group gained momentum quickly.

About the time the surgical suite opened in 2004, Sara Ray, current chairman of the board, joined Friends.

A former cardiac surgery nurse, Ray had been active in several community organizations, but quickly found her niche on the Friends board.

In her first year, she became president-elect and the following year, president. She has never looked back.

In 2009, Eli Manning cuts the ribbon for the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics – funded completely by Friends – with help from Batson patients, from left, Cameron Smyly, Aubree Jordan and Taylor Gibson.She and her husband Bill, president and CEO of BankPlus, were the impetus behind a July 2004 “Christmas in July” visit from football legends Archie and Eli Manning to Batson.  That visit morphed into a five-year commitment to the hugely successful, “An Evening with the Mannings presented by BankPlus.” The event raised $3 million to fund Friends’ next building project – construction of the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics, completed in 2009.

Once the clinics were completed, Friends quickly moved on to another project, the renovation and expansion of the children’s emergency room, committing another $1.7 million.

But before that project began, Thames, who had shepherded Friends for the last 20 years as chairman of the board, decided it was time to step down.

She knew Ray was the one person who could successfully take the reins.

“I had her over to my house one day with this big notebook in my hands and I said, ‘Sara, I’ve got to leave this in the most capable hands I can even imagine.’ And she looked at me and said, “I don’t think I need it right this minute.’

Ray shadowed Thames for two years before taking over as chairman in 2010. Ray never did get the notebook to guide her, but Thames laughed that she just calls instead.

The momentum that began with that $1.7 million pledge for the surgical suite in 2004 has put Friends’ donations in the $15 million range in just the last ten years.

“They’ve created a snowball effect, attracting others to the cause of helping children,” said Dr. James E. Keeton, former UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs, who also worked with Friends in his role as a pediatric urologist.

“Suzan Thames and Sara Ray are people you don’t say ‘no’ to, because they’re so passionate about the Children’s Hospital.  That’s what I call inspirational leadership.”

Rob Armour, who serves as current president of the board, said Friends’ success in spite of an economic recession is because “helping sick children is an undeniably important cause that people gravitate towards.”

“I think it has to do with the culture in our state,” he said. “Regardless of our economic status, Mississippians consistently lead the nation in charitable giving.  And we are very thankful for all of this because the number of children being treated at Batson has grown tremendously in the last few years.”

And with growing patient volumes came a growing list of needs. While building projects are always on the horizon, Friends has managed to help with many smaller needs as well. They’ve helped fund four endowed pediatric chairs, an entertainment system for patient rooms, reading programs for the school-aged patients, the Child Life program, patient needs accounts and dozens of smaller programs and projects that keep them squarely within their original mission of making the hospital as child and family friendly as it can be.

Proceeds from the 2014 Fondren's Zippity Doo Dah Weekend helped Friends purchase a new van for Batson’s palliative care patients. Jill Conner Browne, left and Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, second from left, along with Queens Classymates members present the van to Ray, right.“I always tell people we’re the gravy,” Ray said. “It’s about enhancing the lives of the children and their families when they’re here in this hospital going through something I can’t even imagine. It’s about putting a smile on their faces.”

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BankPlus check card raises $627,195 for Friends of Children’s Hospital https://www.foch.org/bankplus-check-card-raises-627195-friends-childrens-hospital/ Thu, 26 May 2016 21:13:13 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=5478 It’s a story of the “little check card that could,” according to BankPlus President and CEO Bill Ray. Ray was referring to the BankPlus Friends of Children’s Hospital Check Card, first issued in November 2011. He and other representatives from BankPlus, including football legend Eli Manning, gathered in the lobby of Batson Children’s Hospital Thursday... | Learn More

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It’s a story of the “little check card that could,” according to BankPlus President and CEO Bill Ray.

Ray was referring to the BankPlus Friends of Children’s Hospital Check Card, first issued in November 2011. He and other representatives from BankPlus, including football legend Eli Manning, gathered in the lobby of Batson Children’s Hospital Thursday to present $627,195 raised from the check card since its inception.

The card carries a $12 fee per year, which is donated entirely to Friends. BankPlus then matches the fees for the first 4,000 cards each year and donates an additional five cents each time a card is used. The 11,000 active cards average about 200,000 swipes each month.

“You might think those are small amounts, but that’s the power of so many people working together,” Ray said. “We’re so thankful to our customers.”

Ray said the CheckCard is expected to raise about $25,000 to $30,000 a month and continue to grow.

Manning and his father Archie have been spokespersons for BankPlus for many years. The Mannings, particularly Eli, have been champions of the children’s hospital since 2004, when Ray organized Eli and Archie’s first visit to Batson.  That visit initiated a five-year commitment to the Friends event, “An Evening with the Mannings presented by BankPlus” that raised $3 million to fund construction of the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

Manning meets one of his smallest fans, Caitlyn Hardin
Manning meets one of his smallest fans, Caitlyn Hardin

A father to three young daughters, Eli Manning said he enjoys seeing and hearing about the hospital’s growth. As he always does when at the hospital, he spent some time with patients after the presentation.

“The support that BankPlus and Eli have shown to our patients and to Friends of Children’s Hospital over the years is incredible,” said Dr. Rick Barr, the Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics. “I don’t think any of us dreamed this check card would end up making this kind of an impact and we’re so grateful to everyone involved.”

Friends’ president Rob Armour, who also serves as executive vice president and chief marketing & business development officer for BankPlus, expressed amazement at how the check card program has grown.

“As a member of the BankPlus team, I am proud that we created such a wonderful tool,” he said. “As a parent whose children have been cared for at Batson and as the president of Friends of Children’s Hospital, I am able to see the difference the contributions are making here every day.”

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Thank you Century Club Charities https://www.foch.org/thank-you-century-club-charities/ Fri, 22 Jan 2016 22:41:04 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=4949 Century Club Charities and the Sanderson Farms Championship have presented a record-breaking gift to Friends of Children’s Hospital. The $1,109,300 donation will benefit the babies treated in Mississippi’s only Level IV newborn intensive care unit by helping to renovate and expand the space and enhance the unit’s ability to provide family-centered care. On behalf of... | Learn More

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Check-Presentation-049-658x439Century Club Charities and the Sanderson Farms Championship have presented a record-breaking gift to Friends of Children’s Hospital. The $1,109,300 donation will benefit the babies treated in Mississippi’s only Level IV newborn intensive care unit by helping to renovate and expand the space and enhance the unit’s ability to provide family-centered care. On behalf of these children and their families, Friends would like to thank Century Club Charities, Sanderson Farms and all of the tournament volunteers, sponsors, staff and attendees. Shown from left to right are Steve Jent, Dr. Louann Woodward, Joe F. Sanderson, Sara Ray and Peter Marks.

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Suzan Thames Surprised at Friends Annual Meeting https://www.foch.org/suzan-thames-surprised-at-friends-annual-meeting/ Tue, 22 Sep 2015 21:42:18 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=4901 Suzan B. Thames, whose name is synonymous with raising funds and nurturing Mississippi’s children, was celebrated Wednesday at the Medical Center in a clandestine operation. The homage was kept secret from Thames until she walked into the annual meeting of the Friends of Children’s Hospital and some 60 voices yelled, “Surprise!” Thames, the original president... | Learn More

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Suzan Thames, right, accepts a medal, framed in a shadow box from Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, Wednesday during a tribute to Thames at the Student Union. The medal bears the inscription, “The Suzan Brown Thames Chair of Pediatrics.” - See more at: https://www.foch.org/2015/09/suzan-thames-surprised-at-friends-annual-meeting/#sthash.dFmV0aZu.dpuf

Suzan B. Thames, whose name is synonymous with raising funds and nurturing Mississippi’s children, was celebrated Wednesday at the Medical Center in a clandestine operation.

The homage was kept secret from Thames until she walked into the annual meeting of the Friends of Children’s Hospital and some 60 voices yelled, “Surprise!”

Thames, the original president and chair of Friends, which promotes and raises funds for Batson Children’s Hospital, proceeded to collect accolades and a memento as the namesake of the endowed chair now held by Dr. Rick Barr.

She received a shadow box-framed medal bearing the inscription, “The Suzan Brown Thames Chair of Pediatrics,” which was fully endowed in 2010; the medal is a replica of the one awarded to Barr when he was named chair in 2011.

“When you see this I want you to remember how much we appreciate you,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, as she presented the medal to Thames.

“I want you to think about the friends you have raised and the millions of dollars you have raised. But most importantly, think of all the children and the children’s families who are better off because of what you have done.

“You are one of our heroes.”

Sara Ray, left, welcomes Suzan Thames with a hug.Sara Ray, who succeeded Thames as chair of the Friends board in 2010, told the gathering, “Following Suzan is like following Vince Lombardi, Johnny Vaught or Bear Bryant.

“You are symbolic of Friends,” she said, addressing Thames directly. “Because of you, Friends exists. We are so proud to be part of an organization you started.”

Thames, who now serves as Friends’ honorary chair, began her volunteer career with the Medical Center in the early 1980s in conjunction with the Junior League of Jackson to raise money for the construction of the Children’s Cancer Clinic.

She followed that act by chairing, for 20 years, Friends, whose support spurred the opening of the state’s only hospital for children in 1997.

“This is a huge passion of mine,” Thames said after the ceremony. “This is what I’ve wanted my life to revolve around – cutting-edge medical care for our children.

“And I’m so proud of Sara Ray and the heights she’ll take it to.”

Dr. Rick Barr, left, the current chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Suzan Thames, the namesake of the endowed chair, display their medals. - See more at: https://www.foch.org/2015/09/suzan-thames-surprised-at-friends-annual-meeting/#sthash.dFmV0aZu.dpufThe rise of Friends, which is now 25 years old, began when Dr. Owen “Bev” Evans was chair of the Department of Pediatrics; it was his idea to create a fund-raising group for the hospital – and to recruit Thames as its president.

“I’m the one who has been given a gift – to be able to do this,” Thames said. “I’ve met the grandest people, the most generous people. Hard work, yes, but it’s been such a joyful part of my life.”

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Kaylen Crayton-6, Canton https://www.foch.org/kaylen-crayton-6-canton/ Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:04:20 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=3767 For most families, the month of December is a time of happiness and good cheer, but for Kanetra Jackson and her family, the month was filled with shock and sadness. On what was supposed to be an ordinary December day, Kanetra arrived home to find her daughter, Kaylen, throwing up and feeling light-headed. She rushed... | Learn More

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Kaylen Crayton (5)

For most families, the month of December is a time of happiness and good cheer, but for Kanetra Jackson and her family, the month was filled with shock and sadness. On what was supposed to be an ordinary December day, Kanetra arrived home to find her daughter, Kaylen, throwing up and feeling light-headed. She rushed Kaylen to Batson Children’s Hospital where doctors determined she had suffered a head injury and performed immediate surgery. “The doctors told us we had a 5-minute window of getting her into surgery otherwise my baby would not be here today,” said Kanetra. Thankfully, Kaylen is now a healthy first grade honor roll student who enjoys computers, gymnastics, and giving back to the hospital that saved her life. Kaylen donates coloring books and crayons to the sick kids at Batson.

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Aiden Robinson, 3, Brandon https://www.foch.org/aiden-robinson-3-brandon/ Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:03:22 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=3765 When asked if 3-year-old Aiden Robinson has any particular talents or hobbies, his mother Kristel simply replies, “Is being wild a special talent?!”  Kristel describes her son as a non-stop, into-everything little boy. And while that description probably sounds familiar to a lot of moms, it’s when you consider his medical history that such an... | Learn More

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When asked if 3-year-old Aiden Robinson has any particular talents or hobbies, his mother Kristel simply replies, “Is being wild a special talent?!”  Kristel describes her son as a non-stop, into-everything little boy. And while that description probably sounds familiar to a lot of moms, it’s when you consider his medical history that such an energy level becomes extraordinary. It is because Aiden had surgery on his skull at just 8 weeks old and now battles a heart murmur and genetic issues, that his liveliness is “truly a blessing,” says Kristel.  Aiden loves to be outside, ride on his favorite green tractor, and play pretend.

Aiden Robinson

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Sydney Mead, 5, Madison https://www.foch.org/sydney-mead-5-madison/ Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:02:19 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=3763 Born with a rare genetic disease called Williams Syndrome, Sydney Mead had to have open heart surgery just days after birth. Two years later, she had to endure another heart surgery when Dr. Jorge Salazar performed a hybrid procedure to help her pulmonary arteries grow. He told her parents that  she would soon start growing,... | Learn More

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Born with a rare genetic disease called Williams Syndrome, Sydney Mead had to have open heart surgery just days after birth. Two years later, she had to endure another heart surgery when Dr. Jorge Salazar performed a hybrid procedure to help her pulmonary arteries grow. He told her parents that  she would soon start growing, get stronger, and start walking.  She did indeed do all of these. While she must continue to see many pediatric specialists,  this sweet girl always has a big smile on her face especially when listening to music, singing and enjoying her favorite instrument—the drums. 

Sydney Mead (2)

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De’Nahri Middleton, 3, Jackson https://www.foch.org/denahri-middleton-3-jackson/ Mon, 31 Aug 2015 19:20:47 +0000 https://www.foch.org/?p=3756 De’Nahri Middleton is a walking miracle. At only five months, he had his right kidney removed because of a blockage that prevented his kidneys from draining and severely damaged their functioning. De’Nahri would also need an additional six surgeries to fix problems with tonsils, adenoids, and a hernia. The surgeries were difficult on him and... | Learn More

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De’Nahri Middleton is a walking miracle. At only five months, he had his right kidney removed because of a blockage that prevented his kidneys from draining and severely damaged their functioning. De’Nahri would also need an additional six surgeries to fix problems with tonsils, adenoids, and a hernia. The surgeries were difficult on him and his family, but they had faith that everything would be alright. He overcame many obstacles at the beginning of his life, but now can look toward a bright future, including helping raise money for other kidney patients, loving on his favorite Sesame Street character Elmo and playing t-ball. 

DeNahri

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