Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rick Cleveland: We all owe them.

We are in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at University of Mississippi Medical Center. Tiny, tiny babies are everywhere you look. This day, there are 80 of them, from all over the state, and most are crying.

That's a good thing, a doctor tells me. Crying is good. You worry, she says, when they don't cry. Many of these infants were born prematurely. Some are terribly ill. Some have heart defects. Some have neurological problems. Many are fighting for their lives.

Most importantly, lives are being saved.

There's plenty more noise from monitors, ventilators, IV pumps, you name it. It makes for quite the cacophony. Nurses don't seem to notice. The babies are keeping them busy.

A young mother closes a curtain to her baby's cubicle so she can breastfeed in as much privacy as possible. It's obvious, even to an untrained visitor, this unit could use more space.


By now, you are wondering what exactly is this doing on the sports page, and we are about to get to that. Earlier in the day, elsewhere on the UMMC campus, a press conference was held during which Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, handed a check for more than $1.1 million from the PGA Tour's Sanderson Farms Championship and Century Club Charities to the hospital. That's what the tournament raised for UMMC this year, slightly more than last year, which was twice as much as the year before.

Pretty soon, the saying goes, we will be talking about some real money. We already are. And the really good news is that Sanderson Farms has committed to sponsor the tournament for another decade.

“We believe that it is important, particularly for the charities and for the children's hospital, to know that we’re going to be here for that period of time,” Joe Sanderson said. “The people of the Jackson metro area and the state of Mississippi need to know that they can depend on us.”

The neonatal ICU unit at UMMC is the state's only level four (the highest possible) unit of its kind in Mississippi. Sick babies are brought here from all over the state and beyond.

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, called the donation “an incredible gift to the children of Mississippi.”

Approximately 900 newborns a year are treated annually in the cramped NICU unit, which badly needs expanding.

That's the plan, says Guy Giesecke, CEO of the children's hospital. And the Sanderson Farms money will go toward that expansion plan.

UMMC last year announced a plan to built a four-story tower that will adjoin the current children’s hospital, providing badly needed room for NICU and other areas of the hospital.

Parents will be able to stay with their babies, especially important because so many of the infants are from outside the Jackson area. Mothers can breastfeed in private. Parents can share in the care of their babies, learning what they will need to know how to do when they leave the hospital. Doctors and nurses will have more room to work.

Said Giesecke, “We anticipate the average stay in the NICU will drop, which will open more beds and save money for the families and for the state.”


So what does this have to do with sports? The Sanderson Farms Championship over the next few years will provide millions toward the expansion. The football-famous Manning family has helped raise millions already for the hospital and will continue to do so.

We all owe them. We all can help. It is hard to imagine a more worthy cause. Lives are saved in the hustle and bustle of NICU every day.

You never know, one of these preemies might be the next Dak Prescott, Eli Manning, or Brett Favre — or, a PGA champion.


Donations may be sent to Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216


Rick Cleveland is the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum's historian and a syndicated columnist. His email address is


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Trying to read this at the VA and it says BANNED. "Banned terms" "Illegal drugs#

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me who or what I "owe" without telling us first Cleveland what you kicked in.

Anonymous said...

It would be even nicer if Joe Sanderson would ensure humane working conditions for the people who process those chickens.

Anonymous said...

"tough crowd ... tough crowd" (necktie adjustment)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful contribution to the infants and parents of infants that Sanderson Farms and the Manning family are providing. Let's be thankful and become participants in the effort. Leave your negative comments away from Blair Batson Children's Hospital- a real crown jewel in our state.

Anonymous said...

How horribly nasty of you, 10:17.
Agreed, 12:07.
Lovely story, thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Amen 12:07. All the usual bitchers should back off every now and then. Rick has a very good column - and praises some folks who are doing some very good things. You don't like Rick; or Joe Sanderson; or Mannings; or OM; or UMMC - fine. Pack it up for a while. This isn't about any of them as individuals - but does talk about the good that the Center is doing for those that need it most, and not due to anything that they had to do with their need.

I, for one, thank Joe Sanderson and his firm; Archie & Olivia and their boys for supporting this with their time, effort and dollars. If you don't that's your choice but think twice next time before just throwing your crap into the bowl and screwing up the soup.

Anonymous said...

Great Samaritans!!

Rick may have to add Chad Kelly to his list of Mississippi sporting greats after next year.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rodney- long time no see @ 11:42

Anonymous said...

Great article, Rick. Really wonderful contribution, and I am sure much needed.

Anonymous said...

Friends of mine work at UMMC. They HATE it. The place is a disaster from top to bottom with incredibly poor leadership.

Anonymous said...

Please @5:26, curb your attitude for the Sandersons, the Mannings and Rick Cleveland. You own them your subjugation.

Anonymous said...

5:26 pm, I expect your friends , like you. would look for what to hate...birds of a feather and all that.

As a patient, I can tell you that unlike anywhere else, I get appointment reminders, reminders to update immunizations that it's time to get a routine test, never have to wait more than 15 minutes past my appointment time, get needed tests quickly and the results immediately on my computer. The doctors who see me have easy access to my chart so they know whether or not their treatment protocols would make another medical issue worse.

And, two of my friends and a child of friends is alive today because of the remarkably talented doctors at UMMC who are up on the latest available treatments and surgical rock stars.

And, more than a few of my friends are dead because they didn't get timely referrals to other specialists for tests and treatment from their doctor!

Anonymous said...

5:26 some advice for your friends: go get a fast food job, I hear they are getting a raise to $15/hour. much better than they are getting for mopping floors at UMMC...

Anonymous said...

Batson and its physicians are treasures. They have made a huge difference in my child's life. I have also been a patient at UMMC and think it provides outstanding care. When we moved to a different part of the state, I deliberately chose a doctor who is UMMC trained.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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