by Leslie Hast
Photo courtesy of Natus Medical Incorporated
More critically ill infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt will receive life-saving treatments thanks to the fundraising efforts of two local Costco locations. This year, Costco set a $30,000 goal to fund a second head cooling system called the Cool-Cap for the NICU at Children's Hospital.
The treatment is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy available that has the potential to decrease the permanent brain damage that can occur with loss of oxygen and blood flow at the time of birth. A special cap is placed on the baby's head, and circulating water cools the brain while maintaining body temperature at a safe level. Because Children's Hospital is the only hospital in Tennessee using this technology and because it must be administered within six hours of birth, an additional cap will make a significant impact.
"Having a second cap will ensure that the treatment will always be available for any baby in Tennessee who might need this rescue therapy," said William Walsh, M.D., chief of Nurseries at Children's Hospital. "It will also enable me to do research and evaluate the use of this treatment to improve outcomes in babies with loss of oxygen from other causes and even study its effect on premature infants who are a group at high risk of brain injury."
Costco is a national sponsor of Children's Miracle Network, and the Brentwood and Nashville locations raise money each year for Children's Hospital during their "miracle month of May."
Janet Kilgore and Amanda Garber, who work in marketing at the Brentwood location, attribute the fund-raising success to setting such a specific goal.
"The Cool-Cap gave us a real focus. It was more tangible where the money was going," Kilgore said. "We will definitely pick an item again next year; it made such a huge difference."
Though they call it a miracle month, the cause of their success is quite tangible - the efforts of Costco employees and the generosity of their customers.
The Brentwood and Nashville Costco locations set what Kilgore calls a "stretch goal," but far exceeded it. They raised $46,941.44, a 116 percent increase from last year's donation of $21,733, which brought their total giving to Children's Hospital to $133,149.
The majority of funds were raised through selling CMN paper balloon icons, an endeavor led by Paul Trimm, an employee at the Brentwood location. He personally raised more than $6,000.
"Paul is unbelievably friendly, never down and always smiling ear-to-ear. He would suggest donating $100 or $200 rather than just asking for a $1 donation," Guess said.
Carla Ordaz was another star performer, even taking the time to raise money on her days off.
Employees also organized a potluck and held a silent auction with items given by community partners. Country trio Rascal Flatts donated an autographed CD and a shirt worn by lead singer Gary LeVox, which were packaged in a shadowbox with a picture of LeVox wearing the shirt on stage.
Large cash donations were made by the Franklin Noon Rotary and Franklin Fireman's Association. The United Auto Workers Local 1853 made the single largest cash donation of $1,400.
"We set a stretch goal and really challenged ourselves and our members to do all we could to reach our goal," Kilgore said.
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