Bandits raise money for Akron Children’s Hospital

Celina Hutchens

The Bandits are coming.

University Athletics will be collecting spare change for Akron Children’s Hospital starting at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 at the men’s home basketball game while working in conjunction with 98.1 WKDD’s “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon. The Change Bandits hope not only to raise money, but also to raise awareness about children’s issues.

Laura Jo Hawk, director of Annual Programs/Children’s Miracle Network at the hospital said, “The Change Bandit program is a way to get people from all walks of life interested in supporting Akron Children’s.”

Hawk has been fundraising and raising awareness about the hospital for the past six years. In its first year of existence, there were 187 Bandits who raised $17,000. In 2005, there were 1,059 Bandits who raised $155,000 in change, and that’s not including what was raised at the radiothon.

Since 2000, the “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon has raised more than $2.3 million.

Over $586,000 was raised in 2005 alone which, Hawk said, helped to purchase special “kid-sized” medical equipment and supplies, train the next generation of pediatric caregivers, fund research into the causes and cures of childhood illness and injury and provide community outreach services and child advocacy programs to ensure that all kids – regardless of ability to pay – are treated to the highest level of medical health care.

“Akron Children’s Hospital is your children’s hospital,” she said. “We’ve recently opened up a pediatric unit at Robinson Memorial Hospital that will be operated and staffed by Children’s Hospital employees.”

The Change Bandits were at the Kent State women’s basketball game Saturday where they raised $186.15 and a Chuck E. Cheese token.

The fundraiser was organized at Kent State by Gregg Hiller, a senior athletic administration major. It was his job to recruit athletes to collect money during the games in the front lobby of the M.A.C. Center.

That was the first time the program had been at Kent State, and because of its success, Hiller said he expects it will be back again next year.

“It’s not a lot to ask people. Everyone has a penny in their pocket,” he said. “It’s different than a 50-50 drawing because there is no incentive personally.”

With Kent State basketball playing Akron Feb. 4, she expects a sell-out crowd – a possibility that she sees as a perfect reason to set up the fundraiser and collect for a good cause.

The “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon will be held from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 10 and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12 in the hospital atrium lobby.

The Change Bandit Bash will be held on Feb. 9 for those who contributed money from Summit, Portage, Stark, Medina, Wayne, Holmes and Ashland counties.

Contact medicine reporter Celina Hutchens at [email protected].