Fondren Presents Nearly $100,000 to Friends of Children’s Hospital

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Wilkirson, Browne, Wallace, FOCH’s Sara Ray, FOCH board member Scott Overby and Dr. Rick Boyte, professor of pediatrics and director of Baton’s palliative care unit.

In a press conference held today at Blair Batson Hospital For Children in Jackson, Fondren Renaissance Foundation presented a gift totaling almost $100,000 to Friends of Children’s Hospital resulting from the proceeds of Fondren’s 2014 Zippity Doo Dah® Weekend held this past March.

Part of that gift included a 2014 Ford E350 van, highly customized and specially equipped for the hospital’s palliative care unit’s daily transportation use. Those in palliative care have lent their imagination to the design of the van, inspiring the outside look. The Cirlot Agency incorporated those ideas to include images of fairies, race cars, airplanes, butterflies, musicians and sports.

“Fondren Renaissance is thrilled to be giving this gift on behalf of all of those who contributed to the success of the weekend, right here where we serve,” said Jim Wilkirson, executive director of Fondren Renaissance. “No matter what, we’ve all been touched by the work of Children’s Hospital. Zippity Doo Dah® is a perfect example of the more you are a blessing to someone else, the more you are blessed yourself.”

Introduced at today’s event was a new foundation and mission, begun by writer/director Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Heaven is for Real, Pearl Harbor, We Were Soliders), to be known as Bravehearts for Batson™.

“Though I live in California, I grew up with southern roots,” Wallace said, “Over the last couple of years, I’ve really grown to love Batson. This past year, experiencing first hand the children of Batson that attended the parade, I was touched, having just lost my mother. I felt driven to do something meaningful in her honor.”

THE Sweet Potato Queen®, Jill Conner Browne, first met Wallace at a joint book signing a decade ago and the two became fast friends. “He began parading with us for fun and has made this a personal passion,” she said of Wallace’s involvement. “I’m very touched that someone from that far outside of Mississippi can be motivated by such a cause as this.”

Joseph Moss, Mid-Mississippi Division President of BancorpSouth, has renewed their commitment with a generous sponsorship of the 2015 Zippity Doo Dah® Parade, to be held March 27-28, 2015. During the ceremony, he helped unveil the theme, Bravehearts for Batson™. This coincides with the release of Wallace’s forthcoming book, Living the Braveheart Life and the 20th anniversary and re-release of “Braveheart.”

Funds raised next year for Friends of Children’s Hospital will benefit Batson’s cardiac wing through the purchase of Giraffe Omnibeds, used as an all-in-one neonatal care station.

© 2016, Fondren Renaissance Foundation