Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to Host Annual Celebration

Credit Union for Kids is taking a chance to give back to those who give back.

Devoted supporters of Credit Unions for Kids are being invited to the 2011 Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Celebration, which is held annually at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 20-22. Referred to simply as “Celebration” by those involved, the event brings people who have donated time and money to CMN Hospitals face to face with the children and families that they have been working to benefit.

In talking with people about Celebration, the most consistent message seems to be that is a powerful, moving experience—and one that is extremely difficult to fully describe.

“Celebration is truly an event like no other,” said Lisa Stokman of iQ Credit Union. “This is a gathering recognizing not only the sponsors and supporters of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, but the hospitals and patients also come together to ‘celebrate’ all that represents Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.”

In a nutshell, Celebration is an aptly-named event that gives donors and sponsors, children and families (patients from different children’s hospitals known as “champions”), participating hospitals and media outlets, and the CMN Hospitals organization itself a chance to celebrate each other—to celebrate the work they have done the courage they have shown, and the perseverance and commitment they share. Attendance at the event is by invitation only and usually includes 50-60 people from the credit union industry, according to Joe Dearborn, Senior Director of Credit Unions for Kids.

“Collectively, we all join together, and it’s a celebration and an opportunity to honor our champion families,” Dearborn said, “and there are also educational opportunities for our sponsors. It provides us a lot of opportunity to reach all these audiences at one time.”

The event is near and dear to the heart of the credit union movement, as Credit Unions for Kids is the brand under which America’s credit unions fundraise for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The collaborative effort features involvement on nearly every level, from individual credit unions and local chapters to state leagues and associations, national trade organizations, business partners and trade publications.

The program was introduced nationally in 1996 and since that time the credit union movement has raised more than $80 million for affiliated children’s hospitals. Annually, credit unions are the third-largest “corporate” contributor to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“I have been involved in the Credit Unions for Kids program since its beginning in Washington in 1996,” said Dennis Clinton, President of Spokane City Credit Union. “It is very gratifying and rewarding when one can meet CMN children from all over the United States and Canada and know that you might have made a difference in one of their lives. CMN invites a few Credit Union folks each year that they feel have made special commitments and want them to be recognized for it. The smile on a child’s face is enough, but an invitation to the event to meet them all is so rewarding.”

The event consists of dinners, a sponsor summit, board meetings, and several breakout sessions meant to both educate and entertain, but the most-talked-about agenda item is always the medal ceremony. Each “champion” receives a medal for serving a year-long tenure as the spokesperson for CMN Hospitals for their state. The ceremony is a formal, as each child is invited on-stage individually. Some make speeches, and all are handed their medal by Miss America.

The pin exchange, meanwhile, offers the opportunity for more direct interaction with children.

Jessica Perschon-Rhodes works for Washington State Employees Credit Union, and she is also the Young Leaders 4 Kids board secretary, which got her an invite to last year’s celebration. She highlighted the pin exchange as a particularly memorable part of the event.

“It was life-changing,” she said. “You meet the families, hear their stories and see their journeys through some of these terrible diseases.”

In addition to simply celebrating, the event also offers inspiration and motivation to continue to do more.

“This event places families in front of those folks that donate time and money,” Stokman said. “As someone who has helped coordinate Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers, to have a family whose child has gone or is going through treatment at a children’s hospital thank me face to face is overwhelming, to say the least. I believe as an industry we do not realize the impact we have had on families nationwide through our Credit Unions for Kids program.”

For anyone interested in getting involved locally, Credit Unions for Kids is hosting a tour of a participating Seattle children’s hospital on Sept. 27 at 10 a.m.

“Anyone is welcome to come and check out what the hospitals do and how to get more involved in Credit Unions for Kids,” Pershon-Rhodes said. “We will have a meet-up afterwards to share how to get more involved on a personal or credit union-wide basis.”

Anyone interested in attending should contact Jessica Pershon-Rhodes at jperschon-rhodes@wsecu.org.


Credit Unions for Kids Announces Contest Winner

CU*SWAG partnered with Credit Union for Kids to create a T-shirt to raise funds for CMN Hospitals. To let the credit unions take ownership of the design and create awareness about the upcoming Miracle Jeans Day, Credit Unions for Kids held a contest. The idea was simple: credit unions were invited to submit slogans for the shirt, something that would serve the dual purpose of promoting participation in Miracle Jeans Day while making mention of the credit union movement. The carrot on the end of the string was an expenses-paid trip for two to Walt Disney World.

The contest saw more than 100 different entries, which were then narrowed down to 10 finalists. After getting approximately 800 votes in a week, the winner was announced, with Jennifer Ream of SnoCope Federal Credit Union in Everett, Wash., taking home the blue ribbon with, “Do these jeans make my credit union look good?”

Credit unions can now purchase these shirts to pair with their “miracle” jeans and raise funds for CMN Hospitals by visiting the CU*SWAG website.

CU*SWAG is a graphic t-shirt line that allows credit unions to connect with its employees and members, giving them something fun to wear while simultaneously turning them into credit union advocates.


Vote Now to Benefit the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation

Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation, a frequent beneficiary of Credit Unions for Kids, has a unique opportunity to be a part of Subaru’s “Share the Love” event through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a finalist to become a Subaru “Share the Love” charity, it was announced in August. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help save and improve the lives of more than 17 million kids across North America every year—and you can help with your vote!

Follow these steps to cast your vote:

  1. Press “Like” on the Subaru Facebook page (find it here: www.cmnhospitals.org/subaru)
  2. Select ‘Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ under “Share the Love Charities: Vote for your Favorite.”

You are encouraged to vote each day from Thu. Aug. 25, until Thu., Sept. 15, 2011.

Credit Unions for Kids, founded in the Northwest, is a leading fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The Subaru “Share the Love” event raised $5 million for five charities in 2010. For every new vehicle sold or leased, Subaru donates $250 to the customer’s charity of choice. Please help Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals become a Subaru charity.

 

Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.