A Heart for Children

The Time Has Come for Transformation. The type of transformation that saves lives and improves the health of generations of children. Since 1968, Children’s of Mississippi has provided care for Mississippi’s children in a kid-friendly environment unlike any other medical facility in the state.

More than 200 medical specialists practice at Children’s of Mississippi. In terms of lives saved and children healed, Children’s of Mississippi’s outcomes are among the best in the country. But when it comes to the facility itself, Mississippi’s children and families deserve better. The modern medical advances taking place every day at Children’s have outgrown the current hospital facility, which was not designed to support the level of care Children’s of Mississippi now provides.

As a result, Children’s of Mississippi has launched a capital campaign to fund dramatic enhancements to the state’s only hospital for children. The result will be a physical space that embodies Children’s of Mississippi’s guiding vision, which is to touch the life of every child in Mississippi and help them reach their full potential.

Although plans include extensive physical improvements, the campaign is about much more than just constructing or renovating a building. This once-in-a-lifetime project will exemplify the generosity and compassion that are Mississippi hallmarks, and prompt the rest of the nation to point to Mississippi as a leader in caring for the most vulnerable among us, our children.

In an effort to support Children’s of Mississippi’s vision and one of the most important causes for our state at this time, the Sanderson Farms Championship, Mississippi’s only PGA TOUR event, donated a record $1.125 million from the 2016 tournament to Friends of Children’s Hospital, topping its previous record-setting amounts for four consecutive years. This year’s donation exceeded the $1.109 million raised in 2015, the $1.102 million raised in 2014 and the more than $500,000 raised during the 2013 tournament. Since tournament host Century Club Charities announced Sanderson Farms as the tournament’s title sponsor in 2013, nearly $4 million has been donated to support Mississippi’s only children’s hospital.

“As a parent, this gift means so much,” said Katherine Beck, mother of Jamie Beck, a curly-haired toddler whose life was saved through heart surgery at Batson Children’s Hospital. “This means our children can have the best health care. We think care at Batson is already awesome, but with this gift, it’s going to be stellar.”

This year’s gift is earmarked for Friends of Children’s Hospital’s $20 million pledge to The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, which is funding construction to update pediatric care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi will fund the construction of new buildings and renovations to the existing space within Batson Children’s Hospital. Plans include an expanded neonatal intensive care unit, a new Children’s Heart Center and PICU, a new pediatric imaging center, state-of-the-art operating suites, as well as a new, centrally located outpatient clinic. The new facility will enhance recruiting, attracting even more of the profession’s most skilled doctors and medical researchers to serve Mississippi’s children, and to make medical advances that have the potential to dramatically change healthcare in Mississippi and beyond.

“Having the support of Century Club members and Sanderson Farms through this important PGA TOUR event means that Children’s of Mississippi is closer to fulfilling its mission of touching the life of every child in Mississippi and helping them reach their full potential,” said Guy Giesecke, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s of Mississippi. “This gift will help us continue to advance in our goal to provide state-of-the-art care for the children of Mississippi.”

Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of tournament sponsor Sanderson Farms, sees the tournament’s donation as part of being a good corporate citizen. “Sanderson Farms became a title sponsor of the tournament because of its philanthropy,” said Sanderson.

“As a good corporate citizen, Sanderson Farms gives back to others in the communities where we live,” continued Sanderson. “Making a contribution of this magnitude to Children’s of Mississippi at a time when expansion and updates of pediatric care at Batson Children’s Hospital and UMMC are being planned is heart-warming to all of us at Sanderson Farms.”

Sanderson and his wife Kathy are chairing The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a drive to raise $100 million, a cause they personally donated $10 million to support over the next five years. “Kathy and I believe the campaign for Children’s of Mississippi is the most worthy and important charitable endeavor in the state at this time,” said Sanderson. “This is the largest gift we’ve ever made because we believe this project is the most important to the state and to the children of Mississippi for years to come.”

Century Club Charities President, Peter Marks, said the tournament donation is helping build the future through a tradition of philanthropy. “We at Century Club Charities believe in the future of Mississippi’s children,” Marks said. “There is no better way to invest in our state than to invest in the health of our children. This is what we work for all year.” Since 1994, Century Club Charities has helped more than 66 charities, including Friends of Children’s Hospital, as a result of hosting the state’s premier PGA TOUR event.

“Families are the real winners of the Sanderson Farms Championship, and we want what every parent wants- the best, most compassionate care,” said Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at UMMC. “The continued support of Century Club Charities, Sanderson Farms and Friends of Children’s Hospital means that care can be provided, right here in Mississippi.”

The tournament has an estimated economic impact of more than $25 million for Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties alone, Marks said. The 2016 Sanderson Farms Championship was the final year of Sanderson Farms’ three-year title sponsorship agreement that began with the 2014 tournament. 2017 marks the beginning of a new 10-year title sponsorship commitment from the nation’s third largest poultry producer.

The 2017 tournament, set for October 23–29 at the Country Club of Jackson, will be the 50th anniversary of the event. According to University of Mississippi Chancellor, Jeffery S. Vitter, the Sanderson Farms Championship is a “shining example of the collective power of sporting events, business and philanthropy.”

“We are so grateful for our long-standing relationship with Sanderson Farms, including the tremendous contributions that come from the success of the tournament,” continued Vitter. “These gifts are making a real difference in improving the lives of Mississippians.”

Children’s of Mississippi cares for more than 150,000 children each year, and never turns away any patient for any reason, including the family’s ability to pay. From patients suffering from minor illnesses and broken bones to those plagued with the most serious conditions such as aggressive cancers and cardiac conditions, Children’s of Mississippi can be the difference between life and death for many young Mississippians.

“This is a great day for the future of the state of Mississippi, because without our children, we have no future,” said Sara Ray, Chairman of the Board for Friends of Children’s Hospital. “We need this new facility because we want Mississippi to be the best it can be, and with this donation and capital campaign, we are well on our way.”