JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The philanthropic drive to help pay for a multi-story expansion of the state’s only children’s hospital surpassed its $100 million goal thanks in large part to a $2.5 million gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation.

The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi has now raised $101.5 million.

The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi was launched in 2016 by Sanderson Farms board chairman and CEO Joe Sanderson and his wife, Kathy, with a $10 million personal donation, and has set a record for capital campaign fundraising at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The funds raised allowed for the construction of a state-of-the-art facility that doubled the square footage devoted to pediatric care at the Medical Center.

“This has been the dream of so many people for so long,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and dean of the School of Medicine. “The Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi had an audacious goal – $100 million – but when Kathy and Joe Sanderson took the lead, I had no doubt the goal would be reached. We are in this incredible new children’s hospital tower because of the love for children and families that the Sandersons share with Mississippians from all walks of life.” 

The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower is a complement to the Blair E. Batson Tower, named after the first pediatrics chair at UMMC. The Sanderson Tower includes two neonatal intensive care floors, a floor dedicated to pediatric intensive care, and a pediatric imaging center. The Children’s Heart Center also calls the Sanderson Tower home.

Since the Sanderson Tower’s opening on November 2, 2020, more than 13,090 surgeries have been performed. Inside the 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, more than 1,511 babies started their lives.

The Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, Sanderson said, helped push the campaign over its goal. “Once again, the Ford Foundation has helped make Mississippi a better place to call home. We are thankful for the foundation’s philanthropy and vision.”