In thinking about what to tell you this month regarding what’s been going on at our Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center, I had so many options.  I could have shared with you how busy we have been in our inpatient, critical care, and outpatient settings.  I might have shared with you some incredible stories of dedication on the part of our incredible staff to go the extra distance to save a life and/or put a smile on a child’s face when all that was there initially was fear and sadness.  I could have discussed some new programs and initiatives we are implementing – but then it struck me.  There is one way to weave all these ideas together into a single key take-home point: via the Big Change Roundup, our annual fundraiser and friend-raiser for Vermont Children’s Hospital! 

Since January when we started this year’s change campaign, I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the outpouring of responses – both inside and outside of our organization – as thousands of people are joining together to make a difference in the life of a child, as we like to say “one dime at a time.” I am inspired by the sense of community and teamwork that everyone is showing in their efforts to raise the funds to provide the programs and services that keep the Vermont Children’s Hospital so very special and truly make it “our” children’s hospital!

Just this morning, I walked around our hospital, and there was not a child or family hospitalized or being seen in our specialty or primary care outpatient areas that was not benefitting from the change we raise.  Every dollar we raise here, stays here to provide everything from a piece of life-saving equipment to a child’s favorite toy, not to mention the many support services such as Child Life and family and social services that would not be possible without raising this change.

As defining as my walk around the hospital is to see how the change gets used each and every day, there are my trips out into the community each weekend to various fundraising events for the Big Change Roundup.  From judging a cub scout cake auction in Milton to addressing the annual state winter meeting of the American Legion last weekend in Burlington, everyone is trying to figure out creative and fun ways to raise the change and make miracles happen for the children we serve.

If you have not yet signed up to be a change bandit, what’s stopping you?  You never know when your child, grandchild, or simply a neighbor’s child is going to need Vermont Children’s Hospital – and there is not a better way to make sure we are there for each and every child than by signing up and simply collecting the spare change you, your colleagues at work, or friends in your neighborhood have lying around.  To register for the Roundup – which will end as we collect the change on March 11th – 13th at Walmart stores in Ticonderoga, Plattsburgh, and Williston, finishing up on March 14th in the Ambulatory Care Center lobby of our hospital – simply log on to www.bigchangeroundup.org.  Then, you’ll be on your way to helping our children’s hospital and the many families we serve; I can’t think of a better way for you to truly be “First with Kids”!  Thanks in advance for being part of our 2011 Big Change Roundup!

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at the University of Vermont Medical Center and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. You can also catch “First with Kids” weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and on WPTZ Channel 5. Visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.uvmhealth.org/firstwithkids.

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

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