It's a story of the "little check card that could," according to BankPlus President and CEO Bill Ray.
Ray was referring to the BankPlus Friends of Children's Hospital Check Card, first issued in November 2011. He and other representatives from BankPlus, including football legend Eli Manning, gathered in the lobby of Batson Children's Hospital Thursday to present $627,195 raised from the check card since its inception.
The card carries a $12 fee per year, which is donated entirely to Friends. BankPlus then matches the fees for the first 4,000 cards each year and donates an additional five cents each time a card is used. The 11,000 active cards average about 200,000 swipes each month.
"You might think those are small amounts, but that's the power of so many people working together," Ray said. "We're so thankful to our customers."
Ray said the CheckCard is expected to raise about $25,000 to $30,000 a month and continue to grow.
Manning and his father Archie have been spokespersons for BankPlus for many years. The Mannings, particularly Eli, have been champions of the children's hospital since 2004, when Ray organized Eli and Archie's first visit to Batson. That visit initiated a five-year commitment to the Friends event, "An Evening with the Mannings presented by BankPlus" that raised $3 million to fund construction of the Eli Manning Children's Clinics at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.
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A father to three young daughters, Eli Manning said he enjoys seeing and hearing about the hospital's growth. As he always does when at the hospital, he spent some time with patients after the presentation.
"The support that BankPlus and Eli have shown to our patients and to Friends of Children's Hospital over the years is incredible," said Dr. Rick Barr, the Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics. "I don't think any of us dreamed this check card would end up making this kind of an impact and we're so grateful to everyone involved."
Friends' president Rob Armour, who also serves as executive vice president and chief marketing & business development officer for BankPlus, expressed amazement at how the check card program has grown.
"As a member of the BankPlus team, I am proud that we created such a wonderful tool," he said. "As a parent whose children have been cared for at Batson and as the president of Friends of Children's Hospital, I am able to see the difference the contributions are making here every day."