Walmart’s diesel driving competition benefits CMN hospitals
Published on Monday, September 10, 2018
By: Annie Oeth
KJ Fields, the 2018 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals champion, pulled up to Trustmark Park in Pearl in a Walmart 18-wheeler Aug. 25 for the kickoff of the retailer’s annual fundraising drive that benefits the state’s only Children’s Hospital.
To kick off their 2018 fundraising drive for CMN Hospitals, Walmart and Sam’s Club hosted Trucking for Kids, their annual driving championship, at the home field of the Mississippi Braves. To shift efforts into high gear, trucks, step vans and golf carts were included in the automotive rodeo.
Law enforcement vehicles from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Jackson and Pearl Police Departments led the big rigs carrying KJ and his brother, Kelsey. The blue lights and sirens were worthy of a VIP, KJ said.
“This made me feel like the president,” the champion from Mount Olive said at the opening of the event.
KJ, 12, uses a wheelchair, but he hasn’t let his spinal cord injury stop him from playing guard and forward for the Lakeshore Foundation Sharks basketball team in Birmingham, Alabama. Or from making the honor roll at Mize Attendance Center. Or from volunteering at the Sanderson Farms Championship. Or even from surfing in California.
As a CMN Hospitals champion, KJ is a spokesman for the state’s only hospital dedicated to pediatrics.
Each year, CMN Hospitals, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, identifies children with remarkable medical stories as champions to represent the millions of children treated at CMN Hospitals.
Donors don’t have to drive big rigs, step vans and golf carts to help CMN Hospitals. Walmart customers and Sam’s Club members can conveniently donate $1 or more when they check out at any Walmart or Sam’s Club location through Sunday, Sept. 30.
Money raised from the event goes directly to sick and injured children treated at Batson Children’s Hospital. Funds are used to pay for equipment, research, supplies and a variety of other patient needs.
“Nothing is greater than being able to give back and be a miracle for children,” said Ricky Sharp, a driver for Walmart’s distribution center in Brookhaven. “We’re here to support others and make a difference.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club are closing in on the $1 billion fundraising mark for CMN Hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. The 2017 campaign raised $185,624 for Batson Children’s Hospital.
“Walmart is our top fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals every year,” said Jen Hospodor, UMMC director of CMN Hospitals and community-based fundraising. “Every year, they do an outstanding job, enthusiastically supporting Batson Children’s Hospital.”
Walmart and Sam’s Club joined the CMN Hospitals fundraising family in 1987 when founder Sam Walton committed his company to helping children’s hospitals with the promise that “the associates will amaze you.”
Marty Stroud agrees. The service operations manager at the Brookhaven facility is in his fifth year in leading the state’s Walmart and Sam’s Club campaign, an effort shouldered by associates.
“Our associates volunteer to help in this every year,” Stroud said. “We host Trucking for Kids, but also hold other fundraisers, such as cookouts and selling caps.”
Helping CMN Hospitals is meaningful, Stroud said, “because so many families have been helped by Batson.”
Customers and members can help spread the word about the campaign via social media using the hashtag “#HelpKidsLiveBetter.”