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Hogs for the Cause Announces $1.5M gift for New Oncology Space at Children’s of Mississippi 

By Annie Oeth

UMMC Communications

Children’s of Mississippi leaders gathered with barbecue team members and Hogs for the Cause organizers to celebrate the New Orleans-based barbecue and music festival’s $1.5 million gift to the state’s only children’s hospital. Photos by Joe Ellis/ UMMC Photography

The New Orleans nonprofit Hogs for the Cause will fund an updated hospital space for children with cancer through a $1.5 million gift to Children’s of Mississippi. 

The donation, raised through the signature Hogs for the Cause barbecue and music festival in the Crescent City, will fund renovation of the fifth floor of the Batson Tower, which was opened in 1997. The construction will include Mississippi’s only pediatric bone marrow transplant unit.  

The 22,500-square-foot unit will be renamed the Hogs for the Cause Wing following construction, which is set to begin in late spring 2024.  

“We are thrilled to provide this donation to Children’s of Mississippi,” said Becker Hall, Hogs for the Cause co-founder and CEO. “This notable gift, combined with our recent gifts to other hospitals nationwide, illustrates how ultra-focused Hogs for the Cause is on improving care for pediatric cancer patients and families all over the country.” 

Dr. Betty Herrington, professor of hematology and oncology, said the gift will improve the care and comfort of her patients. 

Becker Hall, CEO and co-founder of Hogs for the Cause, talks with Dr. Betty Herrington of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi.

“Hogs for the Cause is fulfilling a great need we have here in Mississippi, and we are grateful to have them as our newest partner,” she said. “Our floor is more than adequate, but treatments change and technology changes. This new space will have a significant impact on the families of those battling childhood diseases such as cancer, leukemia and sickle cell anemia. To refurbish our floor means the world to us and our patients.” 

Children’s of Mississippi provides care to more than 800 cancer patients including about 300 children with brain tumors. The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi has one of the largest sickle cell programs in the country, caring for more than 950 children, adolescents and adults. 

Hogs for the Cause got its start in 2009, when Hall and cofounder Rene Louapre hosted a pig roast behind Audubon Zoo to raise money to help a child with an incurable form of brain cancer. That one fundraiser became what is now one of the largest barbecue and music festivals in the country, welcoming more than 90 local and regional barbecue masters for the competition. The winner is crowned grand champion and is awarded the coveted brass pig trophy. 

The 2023 Hogs for the Cause raised more than $3.6 million to fight pediatric brain cancer. The next Hogs for the Cause is planned for April 5-6, 2024, at UNO Lakefront.  

From left, Rene Louapre, co-founder of Hogs for the Cause; Becker Hall, co-founder and CEO; and Zandy Rainold, chairman of the board; tell about the festival’s philanthropic mission.

Children’s of Mississippi joins a list of hospitals helped by Hogs for the Cause, including Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Ochsner Hospital for Children, Duke Children’s Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. 

The donation comes as the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi is undergoing renovations. The project will triple the size of the center’s infusion room and redesign it for more privacy for patients and will bring the number of exam rooms from the current eight to 14. Work is expected to be completed in mid-2024.


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