Grants from license plate funds awarded
by Mary Helen Yarborough
Prompt success from a special South Carolina license plate project has
resulted in the first set of annual grants awarded by the Children’s
Hospital Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC). The grants, announced
during a special meeting March 12, will help improve the care and
experience of pediatric patients and their families.
Endorsing recommendations of its finance committee, VAC announced
recipients of grants totaling $10,000 that will support child-friendly
clinics, ease a family’s pain from losing a child, and connect a
patient relegated to therapeutic isolation to virtual interaction with
others and life in the Atrium.
Benton (center) gathers with the Volunteer Advisory Committee chairman
John Brisini (left), Adams’ Outdoor’s Sharon Murbarger, John
Fitzpatrick (seated), and Children’s Hospital administrator John
Sanders (right) during a meeting announcing grants from funds raised
through sales of a special license plate. Adams Outdoor presented Joey
with a handheld version of the billboard the company donated to promote
the license tag.
The meeting at Ashley River Tower also featured the star of the license
plate and billboard campaign, Joey Benton, the 6-year-old cystic
fibrosis (CF) patient, whose smiling face was posted along busy
interstate highways. He received a replicated handheld version of the
billboard that was produced and donated by Adams Outdoor advertising.
Standing on a chair to address the surrounding committee, Joey told of his experience and appreciation for helping others.
“I enjoyed being the spokesman, and I liked interviewing on TV and
radio,” said Joey. He recently had a feeding tube implanted to help him
consume more nutrition and boost his weight. But on this late
afternoon, as he looked at the adults seated around him, Joey’s
enthusiasm, hope and willingness seemed insatiable. “I was glad that I
could do this and what we were doing was going to help other people.
...What else can we do to get the word out on this license plate? I
want to do more.”
The license plate will continue to sell and raise money to help improve
the clinical experiences of children like Joey. “You know, everyone has
to renew their license tags, and tag renewals could be any month during
the year for a lot of people,” said Christine Messick, Children’s
Hospital volunteer coordinator. “I have had so many people tell me that
they wish they had known about the plate before they renewed, so I
believe that now that more people are aware of it, a lot more people
will participate in the tag campaign.”
Adams Outdoor representatives Sharon Murbarger and John Fitzpatrick
also received special recognition by VAC and Children’s Hospital
“The Volunteer Advisory Committee has no better friend than Adam’s Outdoor,” said VAC chairman John Brisini.
While the three year old VAC, a group of 14 Children’s Hospital
volunteers, raised money from a variety of fundraising efforts, its
coffers blossomed with funds generated on the sale of a special
Children’s Hospital license plate. Launched in the fall of 2008, the
license tag is a statewide partnership between the S.C. Department of
Motor Vehicles and VAC, and will continue to support special VAC grant
programs each year, Messick said.
Of the 13 grant applications, VAC selected four projects based on their
merits, chance for enduring success and direct benefit to patients.
palate bears: $500, which will support the purchase of teddy bears for
48 children with the most severe craniofacial defects. This grant will
serve as a pilot study to fully evaluate the impact that the plush toys
have on the patients. The study will involve evaluations and surveys
coordinated between VAC and the Craniofacial Department.
clinics: $3,800, which will be used to outfit 40 patient rooms with
interactive wall-mounted seal life toys. The children’s clinics see
65,000-70,000 patients a year, but the rooms are stark and clinical,
and not comforting to children. The special wall-mounted displays
include interactive removable, washable, soft sea life toys that attach
to the colorful displays. These displays will be mounted in 40 of the
77 exam rooms located in Rutledge Tower. (A test already has
demonstrated positive responses from children in exam rooms, said Jason
Kempton, VAC board member.)
program: $1,800, which will be used for the Passages Program to
purchase 65 “memory boxes.” These special bereavement packages will
include materials (hand castings and professionally-designed boxes)
that families of deceased children can use to memorialize their child.
“The purpose of the these boxes is to provide a remembrance gift that
is dignified, permanent and aids in the grieving and healing process,”
Project: $3,900, which will be used to provide isolation patients with
laptops and Web cameras, therapeutic resources, and toys for Ozzy’s
Project, named for a child who recently died of CF. “The purpose of the
project is to support and normalize life for patients in isolation,”
Kempton said. “It will help increase the level of therapeutic support
and intervention, and also reduce limitations in the hospital by
increasing access to resources normally withheld in required
isolation.” MUSC Information Technology (IT) will assist in providing
IT support, including the ability to link isolated patients, via
videoconferencing tools, to activities and resources in the Atrium. Two
computers and networking software, as well as age-appropriate
therapeutic toys and resources will be purchased with grant money.
Of the $50 fee to purchase the plate, $42 goes to the Children’s
Hospital. Supporters can donate each year when they renew the use of
the license plate along with their vehicle registration.
To purchase a special Children’s Hospital license plate, visit
http://musckids.com/news/license_plate.htm or go to the local DMV
Friday, March 20, 2009