Mark McCoy of radio station 100.9 The Legend interviews Children’s of Mississippi patient Trinley Camp of Brandon as her mother, Amanda, looks on during the 2018 Mississippi Miracles Radiothon. Image: UMMC

by Annie Oeth/UMMC

The Mississippi Miracles Radiothon has a new location this year, but its cause is the same: to raise hundreds of thousands for Children’s of Mississippi and Batson Children’s Hospital.

The annual drive that has brought some of The Radio People’s largest stations to the Batson lobby for the past 17 years will broadcast this year from the second floor of the Norman C. Nelson Student Union. The broadcasting will start at 6 a.m. Wednesday and conclude with the announcement of the radiothon’s total at 7 p.m. Friday.

Listeners can make pledges now by visiting umc.edu/mississippimiracles or during the radiothon by calling (601) 984-KIDS or texting GROW to 51555.

Construction of UMMC’s seven-story pediatric expansion is prompting the Radiothon move. The $180 million tower, which will more than double the square-footage of pediatric care space, is set to open in fall 2020.

“We will be broadcasting from a new location, but Children’s of Mississippi and Batson, as always, will be our focus,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community partnerships with UMMC’s Office of Development. “Mississippi Miracles, through pledges made by radio listeners and businesses from around the state, helps fund purchases of life-saving equipment as well as items that make a hospital stay more comfortable for our patients and their families.”

Many of the pledges are about $15 a month, what families can afford, but those donations add up, she said. “Each year, thousands of Mississippians from all walks of life come together to help children. We are so thankful for the generosity and caring of so many.”

The 2018 Mississippi Miracles Radiothon raised $508,929 for the state’s only children’s hospital. Over the years, this perennial event has raised more than $5.8 million.

The Radio People stations US 96.3, Mix 98.7, Y101.7,  Blues 93.1 and 93.5 The Legend from Jackson, River 101.3, KHits 104.5 and 92.7 The Touch of Vicksburg, and 97 OKK, Q 101, 95.1 The Beat and Kiss 104.1 of Meridian will be telling the Children’s of Mississippi story and encouraging the community’s support.

During many of the Radiothon’s hours, Children’s of Mississippi patients and their families will do live interviews with radio DJs to share their stories with listeners, telling what expert care from Batson Children’s Hospital and Children’s of Mississippi providers means to them.

“Radiothon for me is about giving back in a small way to somewhere that helped give my children the chance to grow up,” said Katie Puckett of Pearl, whose children Caroline and Luke are both patients. Caroline was born with severe congenital heart disease, and Luke was born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal column does not close completely.

“The staff at Children’s of Mississippi is an extension of our family,” she said. “They have been there for our highs and lows, and we owe them everything.”

Mix 98.7 program director John Anthony will be piloting the airwaves during this, his 14th Mississippi Miracles Radiothon.

“It’s crazy and chaotic, but it’s a fun kind of chaos,” Anthony said. “It’s also a reunion for broadcasters and for the patients and families who share their stories with us. Many of the patients we first met in earlier Radiothons are now adults with families of their own, and that’s a testament to the care at Batson Children’s Hospital.”

Nikki Brown, program director/music director at U.S. 96.3, said the event makes her proud to be a Mississippian.

“In 18 years, not only millions of dollars have been raised but also awareness,” she said. “Now everyone knows about this hospital. Think of what now exists that didn’t 18 years ago. This truly shows what Mississippians can do and how we care for each other.”

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