By Darlene Carey
In a late night rally of community support Tuesday, Hurley Children’s Hospital, based out of Flint, Bay City and Saginaw, edged out the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital of Grand Rapids for the top prize of $50,000 in the Vote for Miracles Contest.
Along with the votes of everyday citizens in the international contest, there was an added local element: Dr. Alan Klein, a Hurley Hospital pediatric dentist since November 1980, donated an additional $20,000 through the Sheppy Dog Fund. The private fund was established in memoriam for Sheppy, Dr. Klein’s dog and best friend of many years. According to Peggy Agar, Hurley’s marketing specialist, “Over the years this fund has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hurley Children’s Hospital.”
The Votes for Miracles contest, in its third year, is organized by America’s Credit Unions and awards $100,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The contest is a three-week online voting promotion where voters choose their favorite Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and can vote once per day. The top five hospitals receiving the most votes get a share of $100,000, with first prize at $50,000, second prize $20,000, third prize $15,000, fourth prize $10,000 and fifth prize $5,000.
Hurley has come in first for three consecutive years. Agar attributes this to community support. Hurley racked up 110,000 votes to win last year; this year, votes for Hurley hit 240,000. She says, “That is 240,000 times people in the community not only thought about our kids, but took action to help them…simply amazing!”
The reach of the contest relies on citizen involvement, Agar states, “The Vote for Miracles contest, while earning the much-needed $50,000 donation, has accomplished something that money can’t buy. It has raised awareness of the good work done at Hurley Children’s Hospital and has served as a platform for voter engagement not only across our immediate service territory, but around the world. People voted from across the United States, from the Philippines, Japan, England and beyond.”
Flint continues to be a platform in global conversations, but is also in the minds and hearts of its local citizens. “People who have had a connection with Hurley as well as ‘newcomers’ found a reason to want to help this Flint, Michigan hospital,” Agar said.
Asked about plans for the prize money, Agar said “Staff members involved with the care of our youngest patients will discuss immediate needs and will then determine the best way to utilize the $50,000 gift from…Credit Unions for Kids” (CU4Kids).
Hurley officials said they expect use the winnings to support purchasing much needed equipment or provide “soft touch” items like stuffed animals and toys that make the young patients’ hospital stay more comfortable, making a substantial difference to the children and families.
The Pediatric Team at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint serves a large percentage of the community, with the Level II Pediatric Emergency Department logging more than 25,000 visits per year. Hurley’s state-of-the-art hospital has 28 beds in the Pediatric Unit; 14 beds in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; 44 isolettes in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in total.
The Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization, founded in 1983, that raises funds for children’s hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children’s health issues. To date, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals claims to have raised more than $4.7 billion which is distributed directly to a network of 170 hospitals.
Agar said the team at Hurley also appreciates the support from Credit Unions for Kids, an organization that America’s credit unions use to fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Adopted as the credit union movement’s charity of choice, CU4Kids is the third largest corporate sponsor of CMN Hospitals. Since 1996, credit unions have donated over $150 million to help sick and injured kids being treated at CMN Hospitals throughout the U.S., according to a press release from Hurley.
“We are so appreciative of all that credit unions have done for Hurley Children’s Hospital over the years,” said Melany Gavulic, president and CEO, Hurley Medical Center. “We are grateful that we will be able to put Vote for Miracles contest winnings towards helping our youngest patients. We sincerely value the outpouring of support and love for Hurley Children’s Hospital and want to thank every single person who cared enough about these children to take the time to vote.” There is now more hope for comfort and joy to children and families this holiday season.
EVM Staff Writer Darlene Carey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.