By Annie Oeth
The familiar radio voices from morning and evening commutes teamed up with Children’s of Mississippi patients and their families to raise $441,544 for the state’s only children’s hospital during the 21st annual Mississippi Miracles Radiothon.
The event, stretching from March 2 to 4, featured families sharing their children’s medical journeys with listeners to The Radio People’s stations in Jackson, Meridian and Vicksburg.
“We’re just overwhelmed by the generosity of Mississippi Miracles Radiothon listeners,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community development, annual giving and alumni engagement at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “Every year, we see miracles happen because of the gifts from listeners around the state.”
Children’s of Mississippi is the pediatric arm of UMMC that includes the state’s only children’s hospital and clinics around the state.
Twelve stations representing New South Radio – Y101, Mix 98.7, U.S. 96, 93.5 The Legend and Blues 93.1 in Jackson; Vicksburg stations K Hits 104.5, River 101.3 and 92.7 The Touch; and 97 OKK, Q101, Kiss 104.1 and 95.1 The Beat of Meridian – were broadcasting from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, what the on-air personalities call the best three days of the year.
Bob Lawrence, general manager of New South Radio, describes the three-day fundraiser with these words: “Exciting, intense, phenomenal and overwhelmingly emotional.”
“Hearing the patients’ and parents’ stories are touching,” he said Wednesday. “I was already crying the first day.”
Family members of patients were sharing their health care journeys and thanking the Miracle Giving Club members who pledged donations of $15 or more a month.
“Giving helps power this hospital,” said Robert Whitten of Vicksburg to listeners on the first day of the marathon broadcast. His son started life at Children’s of Mississippi’s neonatal intensive care unit. Born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a condition in which the diaphragm doesn’t form properly, which can allow chest organs to crowd the lungs and prevent them from developing the way they should.
“His name is Jeremiah, like in the Bible,” Whitten said, “the book that says, ‘I knew you before you were born.”
Multiple surgeries and a stay of about two months in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi, and Jeremiah is doing well. “We’re grateful and want to give back,” he said.
During the past 21 years, Mississippi Miracles Radiothon has raised more than $7.54 million for Children’s of Mississippi, helping purchase medical equipment and items to make patients and their families more comfortable.
For Karinlee Brister, her children’s care team aren’t just medical professionals – they’re family.
“We forged a family here at Children’s of Mississippi,” she said. Daughter Kathrynlee Brister-McDaniel, 4, and son Jackson Brister-McDaniel, 2, received care inside the Children’s of Mississippi NICU as babies. “They not only cared for my children, but they cared for all of us.”
The Mississippi Miracles Radiothon giving continues online and by texting GROW to 51555.