By Will McClure
It was an interesting sight last Friday morning as Common Ground Youth Minister Paul Wright and Walmart store manager Michael Steele were “arrested” by Stamford Police Chief Darwin Huston and led to a table inside Walmart in handcuffs. What was their crime? Both have hearts of gold as they would spend the day collecting donations for the Children’s Miracle Network, with all of the donations benefiting the Hendrick Children’s Hospital in Abilene.
While there to benefit a good cause, the two gentlemen could not help but have a little fun as well. Wright noted how he arrived in the Walmart parking lot to see Chief Huston waiting for him, handcuffs at the ready, and joked about how he was “arriving to be arrested.” Led into the store, Wright was taken to the table at the front of the store, otherwise known as “jail” for this event, where he would remain throughout the day. Mr. Wright demonstrated his good heart and general sense of humor as Huston took off the handcuffs to go retrieve Steele. Meanwhile, store manager Steele had just finished wrapping up the morning store meeting when Huston walked to the employee area, handcuffs at the ready. Walmart employees laughed and took pictures of their boss as he was led to the table. He also claimed his “innocence” before assuming his position at the table to receive donations for the worthy cause. With all of the joking completed for the day, both men went to work to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Store patrons stopped by the table to donate money instantly or even fill out a pledge form for larger amounts. Mr. Wright himself even took to his phone, calling around town asking for donations from local businesses. Although the two men had fun and laughed along with the patrons present, it was all for a serious and generous cause that has done a lot of good over the years.
Serving 19 counties including Taylor, Callahan, Jones, Eastland and Nolan, the Hendrick Children’s Hospital is the only hospital from Fort Worth to Lubbock that meets the unique needs of treating children, including 20 patient rooms with sleeping accommodations for parents, two patient rooms designed for chemotherapy, three playrooms to provide healing play, three pediatric intensive care rooms and two family rooms. In 2014 alone, the hospital provided nearly 27,000 patient visits, which included 10,808 trauma center visits, 1,989 rehab visits and even 1,610 births, all with the help of over $400,000 in charity care thanks to donations.
Those that are curious as to where the donations go, the funds support so much more than patient visits. The donations help fund the Asthma Summer Day Camp, which is designed to teach children life-long asthma management through education and play, with more than 70 kids attending each year. They also fund a specially designed therapy program known as the HERO Program, which uses horses to help pediatric rehab patients. Camp Courage is also funded which has specially trained facilitators to help children who have suffered a loss through death, divorce or other painful transitions. These facilitators help the children build trust, self-esteem and understand the grief process, with more than 90 children attending each year. Other programs include the P.E.T.S. Program, Child Life Program, Child/Family Assistance Fund, which helps families afford child healthcare through extenuating circumstances, and funds education and equipment to meet the specific needs of the children. For more information about these programs, readers can visit http://www.ehendrick.org/CMNH/ChildrensMiracleNetwork.aspx.
All in all, both Paul Wright and Michael Steele were “guilty” of having big hearts as they worked to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network. Individuals stopped to sign pledge forms or even gave what they could for a worthy cause. Patrons can still donate to the Network at Walmart, but it is clear that, to help children in need, Wright and Steele were more than willing to donate their time and energy for the cause. Thank you, Mr. Wright and Mr. Steele, for your enthusiasm and big hearts during this season of giving for the Children’s Miracle Network and Hendrick Children’s Hospital.