Did you ever hear that old saying that the whole is better than the sum of its parts? What if each part was remarkable unto itself such that the whole was absolutely extraordinary? Such is the case with what has occurred as a result of this year’s Big Change Roundup for Kids that just ended as the last pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters were turned in, ending the most memorable and meaningful fund-raising event for our Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center for which I was honored and humbled to play a part.

The Big Change Roundup may appear at first glance to be a fund-raiser, but what it really is is a friend-raiser as it resulted in thousands of people joining together to raise almost $270,000, or roughly two-and-a-half tons of change that will be used for a variety of programs and services that make us the most child-friendly family-centered children’s hospital possible—programs and services that can make children smile and/or save their lives.

I cannot begin to express my thanks and gratitude for the many who raised the change and then brought it to us during the five days we collected it at various sites here in Vermont and upstate New York.  Everyone I met along the Roundup trail (and I met many, many wonderful new friends as well as reconnected with so many ongoing friends) had a story to tell me either about someone we have helped at our children’s hospital and who benefitted from the funds raised or simply wanted me to know they were donating so that we would always be there for their child, grandchild or a neighbor’s child should they ever need to use our services.

Traveling around in the “Pete’s RV Coach for Kids” and seeing and often participating in the many events that were held by children, their parents, grandparents, schools, community groups and businesses were all moments I will never forget.

The Big Change Roundup is an ongoing partnership between country radio station WOKO and our hospital with help from some wonderful sponsors including Maplefields, New England Federal Credit Union, Pete’s RVCenter and Wal-mart. I am especially grateful for WOKO’s investment in time and effort from January through March of energizing listeners to participate in the Roundup, thanks to their passion and dedication to raising the funds for our hospital. If you listened at the during our five days of broadcasting the Roundup (March 6-10) and heard the emotion and tears of gratitude shed by each broadcaster as well as by me, you hopefully understood what this event means to all of us—an event that exemplifies the mission of our University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and in turn all of us who work at the UVM Medical Center as we came together to keep the care to children local and also make sure that care is the best.

On behalf of our incredible staff, and most importantly the thousands of children who are served by us each year, I want to express my thanks for the generosity extended to us by all who participated in  the Big Change Round-up for Kids.  What transpired through the huge amount of change raised will change the lives of children in our region who will need The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital in the year ahead, and in doing so make everyone who was a part of this great event truly “First” with kids!

Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of 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.

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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