For the sixth year in a row, Century Club Charities has set a record in philanthropy, announcing a $1.3 million donation to Friends of Children’s Hospital from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship.
At a recent news conference, the tournament host presented a check to Friends, the fundraising organization dedicated to supporting the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s pediatric health care mission, including the state’s only children’s hospital.
“Spoiler alert: It’s another record year,” quipped Pat Busby, Century Club Charities president.
The record-breaking donation from the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship follows the $1.25 million raised in 2018. With the 2019 gift, Century Club Charities has given more than $7.6 million to Friends since 2013, the first year Sanderson Farms became the title sponsor.
Those donations help children across the state live healthier lives, Busby said. “Children’s of Mississippi treats 150,000 to 175,000 children per year from every city and county in the state of Mississippi. The $1.3 million contribution today is a Mississippi statewide event.”
The donation to Friends of Children’s Hospital will go toward bringing UMMC’s seven-story pediatric expansion to completion. In 2016, Friends made a $20 million pledge to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the philanthropic effort to raise $100 million to fund the project.
Sanderson Farms CEO and board chairman Joe Sanderson Jr., who chairs the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi with his wife, Kathy, said the funds raised through the state’s only PGA TOUR event will benefit families today as well as in the future.
“The opening of this building will be transformative for pediatric care in Mississippi and the surrounding region,” he said.
The Sandersons launched the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi in 2016 with a $10 million personal donation.
With this donation, Friends has surpassed the halfway point in reaching that $20 million goal, said Melanie Morgan, Friends of Children’s Hospital board chair.
“Every child deserves a future, and that future can begin here with Children’s of Mississippi and continue through that child’s life,” Morgan said. “We want to see children back on the playground, back in their schools and communities and living lives of joy and happiness.”
The Sanderson Farms Championship was honored for a second consecutive year by the PGA TOUR with its “Best Charity Integration” award, which recognizes the tournament that best incorporates its charity and theme into all facets of the event.
Children’s of Mississippi, UMMC’s pediatric arm, is highly visible during the Sanderson Farms Championship, with patients, doctors and nurses greeting tournament spectators. Likewise, PGA TOUR players and members of the PGA TOUR Wives Association stop in to visit patients and families at Children’s of Mississippi during tournament week.
“It’s really rewarding for the tournament to set another record for our annual donation to Friends and Children’s of Mississippi,” said Steve Jent, the tournament’s executive director. “I’m really excited for our staff, volunteers, sponsors, and, more importantly, the patients at Children’s that our first year as a stand-alone event was so successful.”
The work of so many to help children get a healthy start in life through Children’s of Mississippi is humbling, said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
“We are so thankful for our partners and their generosity,” Woodward said. “Their dedication to pediatric health will benefit children now and into the future. We are honored and grateful to have, as supporters, people who have such a heart for children and families.”
The new pediatric tower will be home to 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, 12 additional operating rooms, 32 pediatric intensive care rooms, an imaging center designed for children, a specialty clinic and a new lobby. The Children’s Heart Center, representing the Medical Center’s pediatric cardiovascular program, will also call the new building home.
Under construction since early 2018, the Children’s of Mississippi expansion will open in fall 2020.
“Our Children’s of Mississippi experts offer world-class care, and soon we will have a children’s hospital facility that matches their skills,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of Pediatrics.
The 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship will be held Sept. 28-Oct. 4 at the Country Club of Jackson.
To join in the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, visit growchildrens.org.
By Annie Oeth