Cheers, hugs and laughter heralded the results of three days of giving through the Mississippi Miracles Radiothon. Three days of broadcasting resulted in $443,396 raised for Batson Children's Hospital.
“Thank you, Mississippi, for what you do for the children of Batson Children's Hospital,” said an emotional Mark McCoy, an on-air personality for 100.9 The Legend, who was broadcasting the total live from the hospital lobby as it was announced Friday night.
The event, finishing its 15th year, is the largest fundraiser for Children's of Mississippi, an umbrella organization that includes the children's hospital and all pediatric care at UMMC.
To make this happen, The Radio People stations US 96.3, Mix 98.7, Y101.7 and 100.9 The Legend from Jackson, River 101.3, K104.5 and 92.7 The Touch of Vicksburg, and 97 OKK, Q 101, 105.7 The Beat and Kiss 104.1 of Meridian were broadcasting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. this past Wednesday through Friday.
The sound of three days of giving began like what we hear while getting ready for school and work in the morning, only multiple stations all at once. “It's 6 a.m. and 45 degrees.”
“Shorty got low, low, low, low, low.”
“… And now we go to David Herring in the newsroom.”
And then it starts sounding like the beginnings of a miracle. “Be the first caller of the day, first donor of the day at (601) 984-KIDS.”
“Spend 20 bucks a month to make a miracle happen.”
“When we're done,” said Evelyn Johnson, an on-air personality for River 101.3, “about three months later, I am ready for the next one. I get excited at Christmastime, because I know the Mississippi Miracles Radiothon is getting closer. This event is not just part of my job – I love it."
Scott Steele, who broadcasts on U.S. 96.3, sees how talking on the radio can be more than a wake-up call for listeners and for Batson Children's Hospital, its patients and their families.
“This event means the world to me,” Steele said. “It's my favorite thing we do at U.S. 96.3, bar none. We see, through the Mississippi Miracles Radiothon, the generosity of people in this state, and we see how that translates into a greater level of care at this hospital.”
Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts, a frequent visitor to Batson Children's Hospital, was enjoying the first day of her first Mississippi Miracles Radiothon. “This is huge,” she said. “It is so important to have a hospital especially for children in Mississippi. You may not need to take a child to the hospital, but if you do, you want it to be here at home when you need it.”
The Mississippi Miracles Radiothon and Batson Children's Hospital “mean everything to us,” said Lanier Craft of Brandon. She and husband Jeremy are parents of 3-year-old Townes Craft, who receives treatment at Batson each week for Pompe disease, an enzyme deficiency that causes buildup of excess glycogen within muscle cells.
“Doctors at Batson are able to reach out to other universities across the world to bring the best treatment here,” Jeremy Craft said after an interview on Q 101. “And it's close to home. Even if it wasn't, we'd still come here.”
What's the best thing about Batson Children's Hospital? Said 7-year-old Malia Croom between bites of a post-interview cupcake: “Everyone here is great!”
Her mom, Tiffine Croom of Vicksburg, agrees. “Everyone here is like family.”
Coming to the hospital for Malia's backache, which turned out to be an osteoblastoma, a type of tumor on her spine, Tiffine Croom said giving to Batson keeps world-class care right here at home. “We didn't have to go out of state to get the best care.”
Multiple surgeries later, Malia's tumors have not returned.
When Child Life specialist Morgan Mullen talked with radio hosts, she brought a friend along one of the hospital's MediKin teaching dolls. About $200 each, the dolls come in adaptations from asthma to venous access and have proven to be a way hospital staff can teach children about their medical conditions.
“They help kids cope with being in the hospital,” she said. The MediKins are among items donors could help purchase with their pledges.
The importance of giving isn't lost on Mullen. “This is where part of our funding comes from. Many of the resources we have come from the kindness of the people who give to us.”
Zeporah Levy of Carthage came to the Eli Manning Clinics at Batson Children's Hospital when daughter Destiny Triplett, then 7, began showing signs of precocious puberty. Two years later, she's doing well, Levy said.
About to be a radio spokesperson for the Mississippi Miracles Radiothon for the first time, Levy told of what she planned to say Wednesday afternoon: “The Lord says he will bless a cheerful giver, and we have the occasion to help a child. Children rely on us, as adults, to take care of them.”
By Annie Oeth, UMMC Division of Public Affairs