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Friends of Children's Hospital pledges $2 million to new Children's Heart Center

Published on Monday, August 20, 2012

By: Patrice Sawyer Guilfoyle at 601-815-3940 or

Published in Press Releases on August 20, 2012 (PDF)

JACKSON, Miss. – Friends of Children’s Hospital, a group of volunteers dedicated to Batson Children’s Hospital at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, pledged $2 million Saturday night toward the creation of a new Children’s Heart Center at UMMC.

The pledge was announced during a gala Friends event held at the Mississippi Museum of Art, “An Enchanted Evening, Presented by BankPlus.”

“Friends of Children’s Hospital is proud to support the efforts of Batson Children’s Hospital in providing a state-of-the-art heart center for our state’s children,” said Sara Ray, chairman of the Friends board. “I hope support for Friends will soar as we raise funds for this important new facility.”

The cardiovascular programs at the Children’s Hospital have experienced dramatic growth over the last two years with the recruitment of several highly skilled congenital heart surgeons and other pediatric specialists.  Prior to their recruitment, most Mississippi children with congenital heart defects had to leave the state for medical care.  Performing more than 400 operations per year, the children’s heart team has rapidly outgrown existing facilities.

“The University of Mississippi Medical Center is pleased to continue our partnership with Friends of Children’s Hospital as we work together to raise funds for the new Children’s Heart Center,” said Dr. James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.  “The Medical Center thanks Friends not only for this spectacular fundraising event but also for their ongoing commitment to the children of Mississippi.”

Funds pledged by the Friends for the Children’s Heart Center will be raised over five years through annual Enchanted Evening events, with BankPlus as the lead sponsor.  Previously the group raised nearly $3 million for the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital through a similar signature event, “An Evening with the Mannings”.

“I’m delighted BankPlus can play such an integral part in raising funds for the new Children’s Heart Center,” said BankPlus president and CEO Bill Ray. “This event will enable Friends to help fund a premier health-care facility that will benefit all of Mississippi’s children.”