Iowa Touchdowns For Kids Update (And More)

Hello, friends. Here's a quick update on how the fundraiser has gone. In a word: success. According to the UI Children's Hospital, the BHGP community alone has already raised $295 per Iowa touchdown and another $191 in one-time donations.

So for the purposes of extrapolation, if Iowa matches their touchdown total of last year, BHGP will have raised $9,631 to Iowa Touchdowns For Kids; if the Hawkeyes meet their 5-year average of 39 touchdowns, that figure jumps to $11,696! That blows away every expectation we had coming into this campaign, and to say the our community's generosity is commendable is a severe understatement. Thank you, everyone who has donated. Thank you.

Now, we're generally loath to associate "goals" with charity, because it introduces the concept of failure to a fundraising effort like this where literally any donation makes a positive difference. Again, this campaign is a success and will be so if we don't raise another cent. That all said, the $300/TD mark is just five dollars away, and it would be pretty cool to hit a big, round figure like that before the season kicks off on Saturday. If you haven't made your pledge yet but plan to, here's the donation page. As a reminder, everything is run through the Children's Miracle Network, meaning there's no sketchiness involved with the pledging and donation. They're legit, and we wouldn't take any of your time with this if they weren't.

[UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: Holy crap, you guys rock. We're now up to $334 per touchdown. With the flat donations added in, at 32 TDs, that's $10,879; at 39 TDs, it's $13,217. Seriously, that's amazing.]

Also, as a reminder, we are donating our proceeds from every Friend of the Pants t-shirt sold until the end of the season; we've made about two dozen new pants-friends so far, and that too is awesome. Here's where to buy your own Friend of the Pants shirt.

At any rate, for those who are still interested in learning more about children's hospitals, their work with families, and how much of a difference just $1 per touchdown can make, we have a special feature after the break.

In the Official TD4K Donation Bragging thread, we noticed this comment from reader Hawkeyegirl:

McTastic idea...

I work for a children’s hospital in another part of the country, so I know what a difference this kind of fundraising effort can make. Thanks for promoting it BHGP! Gladly donating $3/touchdown. Haul ’em in, McNutt!

That got us to wondering if she would like to expound on how much of a difference one could make, and luckily, she allowed us a Q&A session:

Someone might look at this fundraiser and say, "well, what good is the minimum donation going to do?" So, as someone with first-hand experience with children's hospitals, how much good can it do?

At a children's hospital as in life, it's really the simplest things and most basic gestures that make a difference for the kids and their families. For a child enduring a long inpatient stay, you can't imagine how a simple pack of crisp, new UNO cards will make their eyes light up and break up the monotony. If the Hawkeyes score 50 touchdowns this year, a minimum donation in TD4K will buy about 8 packs of UNO cards - a simple and easy way to bring a little joy to the lives of 8 kids. The minimum donation will also buy boxes of crayons, coloring books, DVDs, and stuffed animals - small comforts that make a hospital stay less scary. Just think if two people made a minimum donation...three...four...it adds up quickly and before you know it, you've built a new wing of the hospital. Okay, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but those donations free up other dollars that the hospital can invest in facilities, technology and research. My bottom line: A minimum donation matters and does make a difference in the life of a child.

How has pediatric care changed over the last 10 years?

As a non-clinical employee of a children’s hospital, my observation is that there have been two significant changes in pediatric care over the last 10 years, and they’re interlinked.

The first is the way in which care is delivered. The old model of care delivery centered on the physician, with even the structure of the clinical space designed to meet the needs of the clinical team as opposed to the patients and families. Today, the standard of care in pediatric health care delivery is an interdisciplinary, family centered approach that incorporates the needs and input of families into every aspect of a child’s care. The families are partners with the care teams, with a goal of open communication and care that is respectful and responsive to family preferences, needs and values.

The second change I’ve observed over the last 10 years is the major capital investments that children’s hospitals have made to expand facilities, upgrade technologies and improve their research infrastructure. These investments go hand in glove with the move to family centered care. Not every community has a children’s hospital, so families often must travel long distances and endure extended hospital stays to access the care their children need. Recognizing the tremendous financial and emotional toll this can have on a family, new facilities are often designed with the collaboration of family advisory groups – parents and children who know first hand what works and what doesn’t work – to make a hospital stay more comfortable for the child and for mom and dad.

Such as?

At my hospital, parents said, "We want to know when the sun is out," so all of our patient rooms have windows to the outside of the building. Had families not been consulted, I can’t say that we would have been sensitive to that need, but it makes perfect sense. Other examples of services and facilities that are designed for families include: concierge services to help families navigate the hospital and an unfamiliar city; family laundry facilities; larger, private patient rooms with not one but two sleep surfaces so two family members can spend the night; family break rooms with computers and snacks; wireless internet; and separate child and teen activity rooms.

Are there any common misconceptions about children's hospitals?

"I hope I never need your hospital (insert any children’s hospital)." I hear that all the time, and I get it. But in the spirit of DJK, allow me to set the record straight.

You may never directly access health care services at a children’s hospital, but if you were ever a child, have a child, or love a child, you’ve already needed a children’s hospital. All children need children’s hospitals. Why? Children's hospitals train the future generations of pediatricians, pediatric specialists and sub-specialists. When their training is complete, they take the skills they’ve acquired and put them into practice as a pediatrician in your community; the neonatologist who cared for your premature baby; or the pediatric emergency room doc who stitched up your son after he fell off his bike. Ask your pediatrician if he or she received training in a children’s hospital. I bet I know the answer.

Anything else you think doesn't get mentioned enough about children's hospitals?

I think there’s a perception that children’s hospitals are mainly cancer or burn hospitals. While it’s true that children’s hospitals care for the majority of children diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., that’s one piece of a much larger picture. Children’s hospitals are comprehensive centers of pediatric specialty care, offering everything from primary care and dentistry to bone marrow and heart transplants. In addition to the comprehensive clinical services, children’s hospitals also provide services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect; community education resources to help protect children from unintended injuries; and art therapy to help children cope with the hospital experience.

We don’t make them wear kiddie hospital gowns, but many children’s hospitals have clinical programs that serve adults with medical conditions of childhood. Due to the tremendous advancements in treatments for diseases such as cystic fibrosis and congenital heart disease, many adults now live with diseases that once would have been fatal in childhood. Generally speaking, adult physicians aren’t trained to care for malformed hearts or diseases that occur in children, so these adult patients are followed by pediatric physicians and treated in children’s hospitals.

We do pediatric research, too. Most people don’t realize that extraordinary medical research takes place in children’s hospitals across the country. The polio vaccine was first tested at a children’s hospital in the United States, and a physician at a U.S. children’s hospital was the first to identify AIDS in children. And the discoveries made at children’s hospitals benefit not only children, but adults as well, because many of the costly and painful health problems that affect adults, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity, often begin in childhood.

Last but not least, it’s about people. Without the dedicated and talented physicians, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, administrators and volunteers who work at children’s hospitals, they’re just very child-friendly buildings. When I tell people where I work, they often turn a little pale and whisper, "It must be so sad." What would be sad is if we didn’t have such wonderful people and hospitals to give hope to kids and their parents.

* * *

The last part is especially important; just as a reminder from the initial post, one of the main things the UIHC is raising money for is a dedicated wing just for the UI Children's Hospital, which is the only CH in the Top 20 without its own facility; the UICH's departments are scattered throughout the hospital complex. Let's do what we can to help make it happen, starting right here at the TD4K donation page.

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