Suzan Thames Surprised at Friends Annual Meeting

Dr. LouAnn Woodward presents Suzan Thames with a shadowbox holding her commemorative medal.

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.”

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, 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.”

The 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.”

Suzan Thames Chair Announcement_11

Dr. Rick Barr, left, the current chair of the Department of Pediatrics, and Suzan Thames, the namesake of the endowed chair, display their medals.

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Endowed Chair for Dr. Keeton Announced

5.7.15 Shot of Everyone

Amidst good humor and heartfelt admiration, two long-time friends were recognized on May 7th at the home of Sara and Bill Ray for their dedication to keeping Mississippi’s children healthy. At the celebration, Dr. Edwin P. Harmon, front row right, chief of pediatric urology, was named the first James E. Keeton, M.D. Chair of Pediatric Urology, a newly endowed chair established with a $1 million gift from Friends of Children’s Hospital. This marks the fourth endowed chair for the Department of Pediatrics.
Also pictured are Keeton, front row left, former Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi Dr. Dan Jones, back row left, Bill and Sara Ray, back row center, Gov. Phil Bryant, back row right, and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine Dr. LouAnn Woodward, center.

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Thank you Paul Moak Subaru!

Representatives with Paul Moak Subaru presented Friends of Children’s Hospital board members with a check for $11,198.00 as the proceeds raised from the Subaru Share The Love Program.  When a new vehicle was purchased at Subaru dealerships across the country, the buyer had an option to choose from five national charities and one local charity to receive a donation from Subaru.  Friends of Children’s Hospital was the chosen local charity for Paul Moak Subaru of Jackson for the second year in a row.  Thank you Paul Moak Subaru and everyone who purchased a new Subaru and chose to support Friends of Children’s Hospital!

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Front row, from left: Trevor Maki, John Scarbrough, Jerry Warfield, Rob Armour and Bret Burgdorf. Second row, from left: Paul Moak, Troy Poston, Rick Hammons and John Shamburger.

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Babalu donates to Friends of Children’s Hospital

Thank you Babalu Tacos and Tapas for donating 10% of the proceeds of their gift cards sales during the holidays to Friends of Children’s Hospital.  Babalu has hosted this annual fundraiser for Friends and we are so appreciate of Bill Latham and all his staff for their support of Friends of Children’s Hospital.  Thank you fur purchasing a gift card and helping the children of Mississippi!

2014 Babalu Check Presentation 287

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Buy your $10 Blue Car Raffle Ticket Today!

Tickets are now on sale for the Patty Peck Honda Doo Dah Day Blue Car Giveaway!  Purchase your $10 raffle ticket for a chance to win a 2015 Honda Civic Coupe LX donated by Patty Peck Honda in Ridgeland, MS.  Part of Fondren’s Zippity Doo Dah Weekend, the Doo Dah Day Blue Car Giveaway raises funds for Friends of Children’s Hospital.  Ten Key Finalists will be drawn in the weeks leading up to the Zippity Doo Dah Parade in Fondren.  All ten Key Finalists will gather on Saturday, March 28th just before the Zippity Doo Dah Parade and each will have a chance to open the SPQ Treasure Chest with the keys to the Honda Civic inside.  One lucky person will drive away in their new car!  The sooner your buy your ticket, the more chances you will have to be drawn as a Key Finalist and win the car!  Please contact the Friends of Children’s Hospital office with any questions or more details about the Patty Peck Honda Doo Dah Day Blue Car Giveaway.


Click here to buy your raffle ticket!


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Pancakes and Pajamas with Santa raises money for Friends


The first Pancakes and Pajamas with Santa event at Highland Village was a huge success!  Thank you to everyone who came out on December 13th to visit with Santa, decorate cookies and ornaments and have a special snowman pancake breakfast!  Highland Village even turned on their snow machine for the children to enjoy as they waited their turn to speak with Santa Claus, who had a special surprise in store – he knew each child’s name and what they wanted for Christmas and personal details to make the visit even more special.  Thank you to Highland Village, Nursery Rhymes, Beagle Bagel and WJTV News Channel 12 for providing a magical morning for the children all while supporting Friends of Children’s Hospital!

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Friends receives record $1.1 million gift from Century Club Charities and The Sanderson Farms Championship!


Joe Sanderson and representatives with Century Club Charities and The Sanderson Farms Championship present the record donation to Friends of Children’s Hospital representatives and special guests.
From left: Steve Jent, Executive Director of The Sanderson Farms Championship; John Lang, President of Century Club Charities; Dr. James Keeton, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at UMC; Governor Phil Bryant; Sara Ray, Chairman of the Board for Friends of Children’s Hospital; Mayor Tony Yarbor; Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, Inc. and Rob Armour, President of the Board for Friends.

More than 1,000 babies and children each year receive life-changing and complex treatment at the Children’s Heart Center at Batson Children’s Hospital.

But current space allocated for such procedures is but a fraction of what’s needed. Ditto for staff, patient beds, and imaging equipment needed to diagnose and treat congenital heart defects, which affect nearly one out of every 100 babies born.

“We’re at a very critical point in the development of the Heart Center,” said Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center. Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of the divisions of pediatric critical care and pediatric cardiology, also is co-director.

The continued support and partnership of the PGA TOUR’s 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship and its host organization, the nonprofit Century Club Charities, is bringing the Heart Center closer to a much-needed expansion that could include 20-24 additional beds, new operating rooms, and an all-new specialized imaging center.

Officials with Century Club Charities today presented a $1,102,700 check to the nonprofit Friends of Children’s Hospital, a volunteer organization that toils year-round to raise money for Batson. Century Club Charities’ generous donation comes from a portion of funds generated by the golf tournament held Nov. 3-9 at the Country Club of Jackson.

“Our goal was to get to a million dollars, and we were blessed with a great response from the sponsors and players, and good weather,” said Johnny Lang, president of Century Club Charities.

Profits from PGA TOUR events nationwide raise money for the chosen charity of tournament hosts. Sanderson Farms agreed in 2013 to take over title sponsorship of the local tournament. Century Club Charities, whose mission is to promote the game of golf for charitable benefit, last year presented a total $500,000 in tournament proceeds to Friends for growth of the Children’s Heart Center.

“We are pleased to have a part in the evolution of the Children’s Heart Center, and are excited to see what the future holds for this hospital,” said Joe Sanderson, CEO and chairman of the board of Sanderson Farms. “The primary reason this tournament exists is to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital, who in turn helps make Mississippi’s only children’s hospital a health-care destination.”

“This is a spectacular achievement,” said James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs.  “On behalf of UMMC, Children’s of Mississippi and all the future patients who will benefit from an addition to the children’s hospital, our heartfelt thanks go to Joe Sanderson, Friends volunteers, and all the people who had a hand in making this tournament a huge success.”

Currently, the Children’s Heart Center is virtual – not its own brick and mortar – but instead space allocated for heart services at Batson. The heart team has rapidly outgrown that space, and since the center’s creation in 2010, has operated on about 2,000 patients. Other procedures, including heart catheterizations and echocardiograms, bring the number treated to more than 5,000 babies and children.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the infrastructure for sustainability. We need adequate rooms, ICU beds, operating rooms, and a pediatric imaging center to support the commitment we’ve made,” Salazar said.

“Now is the time to create an infrastructure for sustainability, and to make long-term care of these children a reality,” he said. “The contributions of the Sanderson family and the tournament will go a long way. It’s very timely that they are giving us this wonderful gift toward that mission.”


Joe Sanderson pauses for a photo with “Revere”, the Sanderson Farms Championship Trophy in Batson Children’s Hospital after the check presentation festivities.

Batson and Children’s Heart Center supporters envision a new building to be constructed in the space adjacent to the current children’s hospital building. Among other things, it would house a new lobby and clinical space for the Children’s Heart Center, including surgical suites, a cardiac intensive care unit and an imaging center.  A construction timeline and costs are still in the planning stages.

“Friends of Children’s Hospital is so thankful for the support provided by the Sanderson Farms Championship and Century Club Charities,” said Sara Ray, chairman of the Friends of Children’s Hospital board of directors. “The magnitude of the contribution from the 2014 tournament is overwhelming, and it will enable Friends of Children’s Hospital to fund our commitment to the Children’s Heart Center sooner than planned.”

“Part of the excitement about our affiliation with Friends of Children’s Hospital is that (the Championship) is the largest and only professional sporting event in the state, and we have the only children’s hospital in the state,” Lang said. “We are thrilled with this affiliation.”



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Trustmark awards Friends $7,500

FB Presentation (3)Friends of Children’s Hospital was awarded $7,500 from Trustmark National Bank for placing second during an online voting competition to celebrate Trustmark’s 125 Years of Giving Campaign.  Trustmark hosted a competition on their new Facebook page between charities in each state they have locations.  Supporters clicked “Like” on the charity’s photo to cast their vote and Friends of Children’s Hospital won second place in the state of Mississippi and was awarded $7,500.  Thank you Trustmark and all those who voted for Friends!

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We’ve Moved!


Friends of Children’s Hospital has moved!

Please save our new contact information and contact us when you want to help support Mississippi’s only children’s hospital!

Friends of Children’s Hospital

3900 Lakeland Drive | Suite 205

Flowood, MS 39232


Telephone number: 601.936.0034


Email address:


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6th Annual SouthGroup 5K Raises Record Amount!

Check Presentation 4

Representatives with SouthGroup Insurance Services presented Friends board members with the proceeds from the 6th Annual SouthGroup Make a Difference 5K on April 15th.  Race coordinator Cyndi Tullos was thrilled with the record amount of $30,000 and thanked all the employees for their continual hard work on each race.  Each year SouthGroup employees from around the state handle each aspect of the race and donate the proceeds to Friends.  To date they have raised more than $145,000 for the child life program at Batson Children’s Hospital.  From left are Amanda Sartain, Friends board member; Melanie Schade, Friends project manager; Cyndi Tullos, SouthGroup employee; Angie Barr, SouthGroup employee; Ronnie Tubertini, President of SouthGroup; Jimmy Newquist, SouthGroup employee; John Scarbrough, Friends board member; David Wall, SouthGroup employee and Bruce Leach, Friends board member.

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