The Blair Batson Children's Hospital in Jackson is the only specialty children's hospital in Mississippi.
The impact of it has been felt locally in a big way over the past year. Children from east Mississippi have received care there:
Lauderdale - 2,176
Clarke - 598
Kemper - 302
Neshoba - 1,585
Newton - 1,155
That's why The Radio People group is hosting a radiothon to help raise money. It's a three-day fundraiser that involves all its local stations: 97-OKK, Country Legends 102.1, 106.9 The Buzz, WJXM 105.7, V-93.5, and News Talk 910 AM.
One hundred percent of the funds will go to the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. Funding for the hospital is important since it operates on donations, and no child is ever turned away who needs treatment.
"We just want people to know how important it is to support the Blair Batson Hospital and what they do for children in the state of Mississippi," said Sheri Anders, whose son was treated there.
Paxton Anders' brother also received care at the facility.
"They helped him and gave him whatever food he wanted," Anders said.
"When we did it last year, we were amazed at the local stories that we have," said 97-OKK radio personality Angie Denney. "I have personal stories through my family, and we found out so many local people around our local area have used this hospital. Last year alone it was a little over 6,000 of our local children needed this hospital, and when you need it, it's there."
"I think it's a rare opportunity for us to be able to reach out in a different way format than we usually do," said 97-OKK radio personality Sharkey. "This give us an opportunity to really reach out in a different manner and get out of the studio and say, 'Hey, here we are.' We want to draw attention to doing something different."
If you'd like to help, you may call 1-888-681-5437 to make a donation. If you are unable to help out financially, you may donate blood at United Blood Services, 1115 25th Avenue in Meridian.
For every unit of blood donated, UBS will donate $10 to the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital.
UBS will have a special blood drive Friday, in memory of Johnathan Mars, to raise money for the children's hospital in this way.
The hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“I want to encourage residents to come in to the center and donate Friday,” said JW Chapman, director of center operations. “We considered Johnathan a part of the United Blood Services family and we want to honor his memory by helping other children receiving treatment at the Blair E. Batson Hospital.”
Mars, who passed away, May 31, 2002, at the age of 5, battled childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, a disease in which malignant cancer cells form in muscle tissue. Mars once went into remission only to have the cancer return. He was a patient at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital as well as other cancer treatment centers and hospitals in the region. He is the son of Andy Mars and Robin Mars, both of Meridian. His mother Robin is an employee at United Blood Services.
United Blood Services held a drive in Mars’ memory last year and made a total contribution of approximately $600 to the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital fund. Chapman said he wants to top last year’s donation by at least $400.
“If we could make at least a $1000 contribution to the hospital, that would be wonderful,” said Chapman. “I hope every person in Meridian and the surrounding area makes plans to come to the center and donate Friday.”
To learn more about the blood needs of young patients like Johnathan, you may call United Blood Services at 601-482-2482 or visit www.UnitedBloodServices.org.
Volunteer blood donors must be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Additional height/weight requirements apply to donors 22 and younger, and donors who are 16 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian. Donors receive a free cholesterol test.