By John Lauck, president and CEO of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
This year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals gave our highest award to some very special supporters, ones who are making a huge difference in the lives of local kids: Walmart associates.
The CMN Hospitals Founders’ Award is given to top children’s hospital advocates, and past recipients have included Roy Disney, longtime senior executive at The Walt Disney Company; Bill Marriott, chairman of Marriott International; and Arnold Palmer, legendary professional golfer.
We honored the 1.4 million associates of Walmart and Sam’s Club in the U.S. and Canada with the Founder’s Award for the millions they raise, one dollar at a time, every year to help local children’s hospitals help local kids.
In addition to supporting the annual “Miracle Balloon” campaign in which customers and members are invited to make a donation at the cash register, many Walmart and Sam’s Club associates have volunteered their time in unique ways: sewing newborn hats, hosting carnivals for patients or even making personal contributions. Collectively, associates’ efforts have raised more than $740 million since 1987 – an amount that adds up to life-saving improvements in children’s healthcare.
It is difficult to put into words how much the support of these dedicated men and women means to the kids and their families our hospitals treat. I have been able to meet many associates who passionately do all they can to help kids when they need it most—kids like Belle.
Soon after being born, Belle was diagnosed with a serious kidney disorder. At age 5, Belle's kidneys began to fail, and dialysis was administered. Luckily, both parents were donor matches. They decided mom Michelle would provide her kidney, pending a full body exam. Doctors discovered Michelle had two malignant breast tumors just in time, and intense radiation and chemotherapy led to remission.
Dad Kyle stepped in as donor, and today they're all thriving - with Belle loving Disney princesses, dancing, cheerleading and becoming a whiz at the piano.
CMN Hospitals funds raised by Walmart associates have supported Belle’s hospital's highly ranked transplant program, where she received the majority of her care since infancy.
I believe Walmart associates’ support of local kids like Belle shows they are living a philosophy Helen Walton once shared: “It’s not what you gather in life but what you scatter that tells the kind of life you have lived.”
The 10 million kids our hospitals treat, and their parents, can’t thank them enough.