JR and Kailey Hand with their children (from left), Harper, 4, Beckett, 1, and Jackson, 3. Photo by John Russell.

Helping Hands

Published on June 20th, 2017 by Diana Duren.

Kailey Hand sensed something was wrong with her newborn son, Jackson. At 3 weeks old, he wasn’t eating well. His tiny body was stiff and his skin was discolored. He cried more often than not.

Mother’s instincts told her he needed help. So Kailey and her husband, JR, took their son to the Emergency Department at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

They had been involved with Friends of Children’s Hospital and other initiatives to support health and well-being for children—a personal passion for Kailey—but they had never needed the hospital for care.

Jackson, they learned, had a severe staph infection, when staphylococcus bacteria get inside the body. Another day of waiting could have made the difference between life and death.With expert care, Jackson was able to go home a few days later.

“Vanderbilt was the first group of people who really listened to me and moved into action,” said Kailey. “The doctors and nurses that night worked miracles, and given the magic of the people that night, I am forever grateful.”

While the Hands went through the “what ifs” in their minds, they knew there were many more families facing similar, and in some cases, more dire circumstances. To help those families, they joined the community of families, businesses and entertainers who supported the Growing to New Heights Campaign, a philanthropic initiative to help build a four-floor expansion atop the existing Children’s Hospital structure.

“Everyone’s worst nightmare is to not only see something happen to their child but also maybe not have the means to get care,” Kailey said. “We can’t let that happen for any child or family. We have to champion through for answers and support. We are lucky to have this facility in our backyard. Who wouldn’t want to grow a treasure we have sitting right here?”

As Kailey and JR have grown their family business, Hand Family Companies, they’ve made it a priority to give back through volunteering and fundraising. Kailey also sits on the Children’s Hospital Advisory Board. They have three children: Harper, 4, Jackson, now 3, and Beckett, 1.

“To have healthy children and to have an avenue to get help for your children who are sick, it’s the greatest gift you could give. I don’t think anyone can process the stress that having a sick child puts on a family until they are in it. It’s a no-brainer to help, and we are just very happy to be a part of it,” JR said.

Because of supporters like the Hand family, Children’s Hospital surpassed its fundraising goal of $40 million in February toward the four-floor building expansion that will advance the size and scope of the hospital’s specialized pediatric health care programs.

The Growing to New Heights Campaign, an ambitious fundraising effort launched in October 2014, garnered generous support from numerous donors and organizations, enabling the hospital to meet its goal under the anticipated time frame.

Construction is currently underway on the project, which will add 160,000 square feet of new space atop the hospital’s existing structure. The additional space will be built over an approximately 30-month period to meet the growing health care needs of children and families from Tennessee, the surrounding region and across the nation.

To launch the campaign, the daughters of the late Ann and Monroe Carell Jr.—Edie Carell Johnson, Julie Carell Stadler, Kathryn Carell Brown—and their families, made a cornerstone gift of $10 million.

Construction on a four-floor expansion is well underway at Children’s Hospital. Photo by Daniel Dubois.

“The success of the campaign really speaks to the energy surrounding the campaign and the hospital. The way the community has embraced this campaign has been phenomenal,” said Kathryn Carell Brown, who chaired the campaign.

Along with Brown, co-chairs for the Growing to New Heights Campaign Cabinet included Kix Brooks, Rick Dreiling, Steven Hostetter, Bob Rolfe and Clarence Spalding.

Families of patients and other individuals with longstanding roots in the community supported the campaign as well, including some who had contributed to the effort to build Children’s Hospital as a freestanding facility in 2004. Additionally, more than 100 donors made their first-ever gifts to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in support of the campaign.

The campaign also included a $3 million gift from the Country Music Association, as well as support from numerous partners from the entertainment industry.

Longtime hospital partners who have given generously through the years also left their mark on the expansion campaign, including the Junior League of Nashville, Friends of Children’s Hospital and the 13 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® partner businesses and organizations in the region.

“It is thrilling to see so many people come together in support of this great hospital,” said Luke Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital. “The success of this campaign underscores the enthusiasm our community feels for Children’s Hospital and the patients we serve. We are grateful to have so many champions of our mission. Together, we offer hope and healing to children and their families in our region and beyond.”

– by Christina Echegaray