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Kids hospital gains speed

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolinas HealthCare Foundation plans next spring to kick off the public phase of its campaign to raise $60 million for the new Levine Children’s Hospital.

The foundation also is launching it third annual drive in partnership with the Carolina Panthers and several retail outlets to raise money for cancer research.

The campaign for the $85 million children’s hospital, scheduled to open in spring 2007, is on track to have raised $50 million or more by the end of this year, says Michael Rose, president of the Carolinas HealthCare Foundation.

Individuals and families are expected to contribute 50 percent to 60 percent of the dollars needed, with the remainder coming from corporations, foundations and other community groups, he says.

Campaign chair Smoky Bissell, who is chairman of The Bissell Companies, has visited the top 60 prospective donors since the campaign’s quiet phase began in 2004, says Rose, who has accompanied Bissell on those visits.

With an initial gift of $25 million from Carolinas HealthCare System, along with a gift of land adjacent to Carolinas Medical Center, the campaign also received an early gift of $10 million from the Leon Levine Foundation, the family foundation of the founder and chairman emeritus of Family Dollar Stores and his wife, Sandra.

The 12-story, 234-bed facility will be the biggest children’s hospital between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, and the third-largest in the Southeast after hospitals in Atlanta and Miami.

The campaign also received $5 million from the family of the late Reece Overcash, who lived in Charlotte and Dallas, Tex., and was president and CEO of The Associates Corporation of North America, a Dallas-based consumer finance firm.

The hospital’s 3˝-story atrium will be named for Overcash and his widow, Christa Anderson Overcash of Charlotte and Dallas.

In addition to those individual gifts, corporate support includes $4 million expected to be raised from among 12,000 Charlotte-area employees of Carolinas HealthCare System; $2.5 million to be raised over five years by Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs; $2.5 million to be raised over five years by Clear Channel Communications; $1.5 million to be raised over five years by Food Lion; and $1 million to be raised over five years by WCNC, NBC-6.

To honor Mark Fields and the late Sam Mills, the Carolina Panthers player and coach, respectively, who worked together and were diagnosed with cancer during training camp before the 2003 season and treated by Carolinas Medical Center, the team that year raised more than $130,000 for cancer research.

The first year’s proceeds were divided between the medical center and the American Cancer Society.

Last year, spurred by Mills and Fields, the team continued its effort through production and sale of a $1 “Keep Pounding” rubber wristband, raising $200,000 for the medical center.

This year, the effort aims to raise $300,000 with the sale of “Keep Pounding” key chains.

The items are available at Panthers team stores and panthers.com, and at Belk, Bojangles’, Omega Sports and Rack Room Shoes.

“Our objective at the foundation,” says Rose, “is to improve access to health care and the health-care activities of the system in support of our region.”

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