07/25/2007

Jessica Lynch to Chair WVU Children’s Hospital Campaign

Jessi’s Pals Will Provide Stuffed Animals to Patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Former Prisoner of War Jessica Lynch introduced patients of WVU Children’s Hospital to her Pals Wednesday.

She delivered about 50 stuffed animals to kick off Jessi’s Pals, an initiative to collect new stuffed animals for patients of WVU Children’s Hospital. 

Lynch, from rural Palestine, W.Va., is the former Army Private First Class who was rescued after nine days of captivity during the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

She said she received stuffed animals from all over the world while recovering from injuries suffered in the war. Becoming mother to 7-month-old Dakota Ann in January has deepened her commitment to the well-being of children.

"I have always had a special connection with children, and I am really excited to be involved with WVU Children’s Hospital,” she said.

 “When I first came home from Iraq, it was especially encouraging to read cards and letters children wrote me telling me to get better and not to give up. That experience kind of reinforced my connection to kids, and that connection is a driving force behind my involvement with WVU Children’s Hospital. Support of the hospital is important for children and important for West Virginia."

Lynch, who will chair the Jessi’s Pals campaign, also pledged a $1,000 donation from her Jessica Lynch Foundation.

Jessica Lynch, a new mom herself, says she's motivated by her love of children, and happy to kick off the Jessi's Pals campaign. 

"We are grateful to Jessica for starting this campaign and helping us add another special touch to our outstanding care here at WVU Children’s Hospital,” Cheryl Jones, director of WVU Children’s Hospital, said.

“Each child leaves WVU Children’s Hospital with a blanket and a stuffed animal. We want to give them something to cuddle and make them feel secure while they are here and something to remember us by when they go home.”

 Jessica Lynch playing with patient Holly Elder, 7, of Irwin, Pa., surrounded by Jessi's Pals.

Donations of new stuffed animals or money for the project can be made at Clear Mountain Bank locations in Monongalia or Preston counties, or call Children's Hospital at (304) 598-4346.

"As a locally owned and managed bank, it's important for us to support our local community and WVU Children's Hospital is a part of that community. Jessi's Pals is a wonderful project and Clear Mountain Bank is proud to support this endeavor," Clear Mountain Bank marketing director Clint McCabe said.

 Jessica Lynch is interviewed by reporters.

Eventually, the program will expand to include more drop-off locations around the state.

WVU Children’s Hospital is located on the sixth floor of Ruby Memorial Hospital  It includes a pediatric and adolescent unit, a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a suite of 25 labor-delivery-post-partum rooms for the mother and infant (Maternal Infant Care Center MICC), and an activity room and a teen room as part of its Child Life Program.
 
Each year, WVU Children’s Hospital provides care to about 7,000 newborns and children, who come from every county in West Virginia, and from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Ohio. On average, 1,800 babies are born annually at WVU Children’s Hospital, 48 percent of which are high-risk deliveries.

“We offer subspecialties and services unmatched by other hospitals in the region,” Giovanni Piedimonte, MD, chair of WVU’s Department of Pediatrics, said. “WVU Children’s Hospital is the place families come to for routine and high-risk pregnancies, and all aspects of care for their children.”

- WVU -


07-154
For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
johnsa@wvuh.com
dss:07-25-07

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