Childrens Giving and Growing Aug 2018

The Van Devender family includes, from left, William Van Devender and wife Meredith; Magee Van Devender, held by grandfather Billy Van Devender with wife Mollie; and Laura and Tommy Stansell. In front are sisters CeCe, Emery and Mollie Stansell. Not pictured: Clinton and Caroline Van Devender, Anne and Jack Stanton and their children, Edmund, Frances and John Brennan Stanton Jr., and Meredith and William Van Devender’s daughter, Ellie Louise Van Devender.
The Van Devender family includes, from left, William Van Devender and wife Meredith; Magee Van Devender, held by grandfather Billy Van Devender with wife Mollie; and Laura and Tommy Stansell. In front are sisters CeCe, Emery and Mollie Stansell. Not pictured: Clinton and Caroline Van Devender, Anne and Jack Stanton and their children, Edmund, Frances and John Brennan Stanton Jr., and Meredith and William Van Devender’s daughter, Ellie Louise Van Devender.
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Our Donors: Child’s prayer leads to $1.5M Children’s of Mississippi expansion gift

Published on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Media Contact: Annie Oeth

The simple prayer of a child for the patients of Batson Children’s Hospital brought about a $1.5 million gift from the Van Devender Family Foundation to expand pediatric care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Laura Van Devender Stansell prays each day with her daughters, including Clara Cate, or Cece, 7.

Cece became fascinated with the rainbow logo atop Batson Children’s Hospital, Stansell said. “She loves the story of the rainbow in the Bible. When we would pass by the children’s hospital on the way to school, we’d talk about the hospital, and she wanted to pray for the children who are patients there, so we have ever since.”

Cece’s grandfather, Billy Van Devender Sr., learned of her prayers. “It really touched my heart,” he said, “and I started thinking about how we could help.”

When the Van Devender family talked about causes their family foundation will fund, the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the philanthropic drive to help fund construction of the $180 million children’s tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital, was at the top, he said.

“Children and family are
important to us,” he said. “They
are our future.”

Van Devender and his wife, Mollie, have four children,
Laura Stansell, William, Anne Stanton and Clinton, and eight grandchildren.

“Cece’s prayer, ‘Please help all the children,’ was not only evidence of her caring heart, it was an expression of what we value as a family,” Stansell said. “We want to help the children, and what better way to give than as a family.”

Van Devender’s close friend and former football teammate, Archie Manning, is a strong supporter of UMMC’s mission, having launched the Manning Family Fund for a Healthier Mississippi in 2014.  “Archie, Olivia, Eli and Abby have all been excellent ambassadors for UMMC and Children’s of Mississippi,” Van Devender said.

“Billy and I have been teammates before, so I am happy we are on the same team again, this time with the goal of creating a healthier Mississippi,” said Manning.

Joe Sanderson, campaign co-chair with his wife Kathy, is also
a friend of the Van Devenders and encouraged the family to
participate.