New Orleans nonprofit Hogs for the Cause has announced plans to fund an updated hospital space for children diagnosed with cancer through a $1.5 million gift to Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson.
The donation, which was raised through the annual Hogs for the Cause barbecue and music festival, will fund the renovation of the fifth floor of the Batson Tower.
Originally opened in 1997, the Batson Tower is now expected to include Mississippi’s only pediatric bone marrow transplant unit.
The 22,500-square-foot unit will be renamed the “Hogs for the Cause Wing” following construction, which is set to begin in late spring 2024.
“We are thrilled to provide this donation to Children’s of Mississippi,” Becker Hall, Hogs for the Cause co-founder and CEO, stated. “This notable gift, combined with our recent gifts to other hospitals nationwide, illustrates how ultra-focused Hogs for the Cause is on improving care for pediatric cancer patients and families all over the country.”
Established in 2009, Hogs for the Cause got its start when Hall and cofounder Rene Louapre hosted a pig roast behind Audubon Zoo to raise money to help a child with an incurable form of brain cancer.
That fundraiser became what is now one of the largest barbecue and music festivals in the country, welcoming more than 90 local and regional barbecue masters for the competition.
Children’s of Mississippi joins a list of hospitals helped by Hogs for the Cause, including Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Ochsner Hospital for Children, Duke Children’s Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Children’s Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
The donation comes as the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi is undergoing renovations, with the project expected to triple the size of the center’s infusion room and bring the number of exam rooms from the current eight to 14.
“Hogs for the Cause is fulfilling a great need we have here in Mississippi, and we are grateful to have them as our newest partner,” Dr. Betty Herrington, professor of hematology and oncology, said. “Our floor is more than adequate, but treatments change and technology changes. This new space will have a significant impact on the families of those battling childhood diseases such as cancer, leukemia, and sickle cell anemia. To refurbish our floor means the world to us and our patients.”
Children’s of Mississippi provides care to more than 800 cancer patients including about 300 children with brain tumors. In addition, the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders has one of the largest sickle cell programs in the country, caring for more than 950 children, adolescents, and adults.