Three generous gifts are combining to make a big difference for children and families in the Ozarks. Mercy Health Foundation announced the donations at its annual dinner in late September.
On the heels of a $2 million gift last year for the Betty and Bobby Allison neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Mercy, local self-made millionaire Bobby Allison has generously increased his contribution by another $650,000. A tour through the NICU led to his initial donation. “It’s not really a gift from me. It’s a gift to me. I get a lot more out of it than I put in – than I could ever put in,” he said. Allison always pays tribute to his mother when he makes a donation. “I just can’t say enough about her – that’s why I put it up on walls.”
19-year-old Christy Eggers was killed in a car crash when another driver crossed the center line and hit her head-on. Her father, Charles, took the money that was in her checking account and the insurance payment and began investing it. He’s made enough to give a gift of $500,000. “This is what we’re donating – not my money. It was her money that we worked over 40 years to get. She babysat a lot and she loved kids and that’s what we wanted to do – use her money to help children in the hospital.”
The Mercy Health Auxiliary is made up of volunteers who do everything from making deliveries to patients to answering questions and giving directions. They also help run the gift shop and coordinate various fundraisers. All that work is paying off with a gift of $500,000 to Mercy’s Family Resource Center, which runs educational programs like childbirth classes for expectant parents. “It gives us a chance to provide help, particularly for folks in need but also young families to get started in the right way,” said Mercy auxiliary member Bruce Morton.
The east wing of Mercy Hospital Springfield is currently undergoing renovations as it converts to a pediatric hospital. The Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center, a St. Jude affiliate clinic, has already relocated to the first floor. A kid-friendly café and gift shop are also finished. Completion of the building’s exterior is set for later this fall. “It’s so heartwarming to see members of our community step up to help fund this effort,” said Dr. Robert W. Steele, president of Mercy Hospital Springfield. “As a pediatrician, I know caring for kids in a bright, cheerful and fun place will strengthen our connection to them. We want them to feel comfortable coming to see us, whether they’re well or in need medical care.”
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