Published on Monday, August 28, 2017
Media Contact: Annie Oeth
The Railroad District, the site of BankPlus Presents Enchanted Evening, a fundraiser that benefits Batson Children’s Hospital, was decorated with vines, hydrangeas and strategically placed oak trees, echoing the plans of burgeoning growth for Children’s of Mississippi.
Proceeds from the Saturday night gala go to Friends of Children’s Hospital. The annual event, which has a crisp dress code of all-white garb, drew guests to hear live music from Sam Mooney, enjoy such delicacies as catfish, crabcakes and open-faced tomato sandwiches, and bid on art, luxury items and an NFL game football signed by Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning.
The soiree’s popularity shows “the energy and excitement about our mission,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, “and the community’s commitment to our children.”
The nonprofit dedicated to raising money to support the state’s only children’s hospital has pledged $20 million to the $100 million Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi shortly after the campaign began in 2016.
The funds raised in the campaign will help the Medical Center expand and update its space dedicated for pediatric care including an expanded and renovated neonatal intensive care unit, more rooms for the pediatric intensive care unit, more operating rooms and the creation of an imaging clinic especially for pediatric patients. A new pediatric clinic will make care for outpatients more convenient and comfortable for families. Expansion of the Children’s Heart Center is also on the drawing board.
Children’s of Mississippi is the umbrella organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s pediatric care.
Sidney Allen, incoming board chair of Friends of Children’s Hospital, took to the microphone to thank the group’s patrons and to praise Sara Ray, who has served as chair since 2010.
“Sara Ray doesn’t do anything half way,” Allen said, noting that, during her years of leadership, more than $3 million was raised through Enchanted Evening Under the Stars and An Evening with the Mannings to create the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital.
Allen announced that, in new construction, an area will be named in Ray’s honor.
“We are so proud of her,” Allen said, hugging a tearful Ray.
The amount of funds raised this year was not yet available, but in past years, Enchanted Evening raised an average of $200,000 to $250,000, said Tena McKenzie, Friends’ executive director.
“This event has grown and grown,” said Dr. Owen B. “Bev” Evans, chairman emeritus of pediatrics at UMMC, who led efforts to build Batson Children’s Hospital, which opened its doors 20 years ago. “And Friends of Children’s Hospital began attracting more and more people, including the state’s top business and civic leaders, because they realize the importance of building and manning a hospital to care for Mississippi’s children.”
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