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Golisano’s Children’s hospital hits campaign goal

November 9, 2016
By MEGHAN McCOY (mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com) , Pine Island Eagle

SWFL Children's Charities, Inc. donated $2.4 million, and pledged another $1 million to the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida capital campaign, helping the Lee Health Foundation achieve its $100 million capital campaign goal.

"It is all of the people in the community that attend the event (Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest) and support the event and give so generously. We could not do this without the support from everyone in our community," SWFL Children's Charities, Inc. President Elaine Hawkins said Wednesday at HealthPark. "We want to continue our efforts to support the wonderful work that will be done here at Golisano Children's Hospital."

SWFL Children's Charities Inc. has contributed $16 million for the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, which is scheduled to open April 2017. The 7-story hospital is 292,000 square feet with 128 beds.

Article Photos


Jim Nathan, left, Lee Health CEO, and Lee Health Foundation Chief Foundation Officer Skip Leonard.

"This is really a hospital that the community has built. It's been a labor of love," Lee Health Foundation Chief Foundation Officer Skip Leonard said. "This is your Golisano Children's Hospital."

In 2010, Lee Memorial Health System, now Lee Health, launched a capital campaign to build a new children's hospital in Southwest Florida.

"The campaign was a very aggressive goal," Leonard said. "Some believed it was an impossible goal of $100 million to fund raise for this new building. Needless to say it was a challenge and task that was at best difficult. Fortunately we had many people engage in this."

The first engagement stemmed from SWFL Children's Charities, Inc., a group that formed in 2006. A year after the campaign kicked off the charity pledged $50 million.

"Really an extraordinary gift. The largest of this kind in Southwest Florida," Leonard said.

A year later, Naples resident Thomas Golisano, pledged a $20 million matching challenge for the community.

"Needless to say this community stepped up in a very large way. Thank you," he said.

Joe Catti, president and CEO of FineMark National Bank & Trust, and chair of the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida capital campaign said they had more than 30 donors that each gave an excess of $500,000.

"We got to $90 million and then it seemed like it got a little tough to get the remaining 10," he said. "(SWFL Children Charities, Inc.) combined with the Golisano gift and a few other donors, very large donors, Sanibel Cares, Lee Healthcare Resources and Barbara's Friends, that represented about 60 percent of the total."

Another donation was presented during the special ceremony at the HealthPark atrium. Alex Bremner presented a check for $1 million to Catti Wednesday.

"It gives my family great pleasure to give to you all a check for a million dollars" she said.

Lee Health CEO Jim Nathan concluded the ceremony with a few words.

"Children's hospital services will always be philanthropic. There is nothing in the horizon that will change that. What is so neat and special is when a community embraces that they want to be able to have children's services close to home," he said. "Children, not that many years ago, if they had a really complex illness, died. Now we not only have the ability to help them live, but we also have the ability to help them thrive. To do that requires the technology, the facilities and most importantly the people with the clinical skill and talent to make that happen."

Nathan said everyone who joined the journey of building the new children's hospital made something very special happen in the community because they have been able to recruit and retain people with those skills.

"It's not about building a building, it's about keeping our families together," he said. "Your loving touch, your care and your support is making a difference every day. Today marks a phenomenal milestone in the journey of Golisano Children's Hospital."



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