A lot can happen in a year. Think back over the past 12 months and recall all the events, both good and bad, that came your way. If so much can change in a year, just imagine what can happen in 100 years.

Having just celebrated its 100th birthday, Arkansas Children’s Hospital knows all about what can be accomplished in a century. The hospital commemorated its centennial on Monday, March 5, with a news conference that featured former President Bill Clinton and Gov. Mike Beebe and announced progress on its most ambitious philanthropic goal ever—to raise $160 million to fund programs and services in pediatric care, research, education and prevention.

Named the “Century of Possibility Centennial Campaign,” the fundraising endeavor that began in 2007 strives to provide another century of ACH care and service to children and families, this one even more progressive than the last. The hospital promises to make Arkansas the healthiest place possible for every child.

In short, in this century ACH wants to care for sick children to the point that children no longer need the hospital’s services. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that can be accomplished with enough resources and support.

As of the conference on March 5, ACH had raised $100 million of their goal, $21 million of which was contributed by ACH “family” members, a group of board members, employees, physicians and faculty. But, financially speaking, there’s still a long way to go. The Century of Possibility Campaign will partially fund the largest construction project in ACH history—one that is greatly needed in order to care for more children. The 258,000-square-foot South Wing expansion will add needed bed and clinic space and increase the hospital bed count to 370.

“The South Wing combines state-of-the-art technology with state-of-the-heart facilities for children and families. In both the clinics and patient rooms there is more room, more privacy, and more comfort, which we know speeds healing for both the child and their family,” said ACH President and CEO Jonathan Bates. “We studied, surveyed and visited leading children’s hospitals to find the best ways to deliver the best care in the most healing environment. And to do so, patient care areas are more spacious and private, family-centered areas have been added to every unit, both within the patient rooms and on the units, allowing parents to remain as near their child’s bedside as possible. We are so pleased to bring this remarkable new capacity to serve the children and families of Arkansas.”

Leading the campaign into the next century is the Centennial Campaign Cabinet, a dedicated group of community leaders and volunteers, among them Carol and Witt Stephens Jr. The Stephenses aren’t new to the ACH volunteering scene. For more than a decade they’ve been donating their time, resources and talents – and even those of their dog, Trixie – to ACH. “Our daughter, Arden, was born in 1999, and after that, children have become so special and dear to me and Witt,” Carol said. “Through our involvement in Children’s, I read an article about the Therapeutic Animal Interventions Lift Spirits (TAILS) program, and Trixie and I have been there several years now. Witt and his family have been blessed to support the hospital, but getting to go on a regular basis is such a special opportunity that I get to experience. It is such a touching moment when a patient comes to life when all you do is bring a big, fluffy dog to their bed to touch, pet and love.”

Carol was born and raised in Salem, Witt in Little Rock. Both attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. “My stepnephew, Les, was and is a dear friend of Witt’s. Les would talk about Witt when I was in high school, and I didn’t have a clue who the Stephenses were. After college, and while we were both living here, Les indirectly brought us together.”

In addition to their 12-year-old daughter, Arden, the couple has a son, Witt “Witty,” who is 10. As for four-legged kids, the Stephenses have Trixie, the Border collie mix, and Steel, a black lab. “They are fantastic dogs that give us much pleasure each and every day.”

Carol said she and Witt have both volunteered with other organizations, but ACH is “special.” “Arkansas Children’s Hospital is our first charity of choice. We give and we serve because of what this hospital means to children today and in the future,” Witt said.

“I am amazed at the technology (if everyone could see our neonatal center), the credentials and expertise of our physicians and the volunteers—sometimes I think I count more volunteers than children,” Carol said. “We hope all Arkansans will consider how lucky we are to have ACH and how important it is to ensure it will continue to be here to care for every child, every day.”

Volunteer at ACH Auxiliary groups: Giving.ArChildrens.org/VolunteerGroups, 364-1476;
Hospital: ArChildrens.org/Volunteers, 364-1825
Donate to ACH: www.Giving.ArChildrens.org, 855-224-4483
Learn More: Giving.ArChildrens.org, ACH100.org, 364-1476