MU Celebrates $1.3 Million Pledge from Students to Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Dec. 04, 2018

Story Contact(s):
Cailin Riley,, 573-882-4870

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Leaders from MizzouThon, a University of Missouri student-led philanthropic organization, have announced that the organization has signed a $1.3 million pledge to help with the future expansion and renovation of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital, including purchasing new specialized beds that help reduce stress on newborns and families. The funds also will support the hospital’s music therapy program.

“We’re so grateful for everyone in the MizzouThon Family who helped us finish our first pledge,” said Brittani Langland, executive director of MizzouThon and a senior majoring in journalism. “This new pledge symbolizes our continued promise to the hospital that we will always fight to ensure every child has the right to be a kid.”

Last year, MizzouThon students paid off their five-year $1 million pledge to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit one year early. MizzouThon student leaders anticipate fulfilling this new pledge within five years.

“I am so proud of how our students demonstrate their commitment to making a difference in our community, across the state and beyond,” MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said. “It’s part of what makes Mizzou so special. I cannot thank our students enough for their time, energy, compassion and leadership on—and off—campus.”

The MU Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team cares for more than 500 premature and critically ill infants each year, helping more babies to survive at early gestational ages. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit includes:

  • 20 single-patient rooms
  • two lactation areas — giving new mothers private space for breast feeding
  • a family-infant room where families can stay overnight with their newborns to simulate how it might be once the newborn is at home and away from constant medical care
  • portable digital X-ray machine and developer

The new beds—Giraffe Omni Beds—would create an all-in-one neonatal care station for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients and staff. Each bed has the ability to change from a full-featured incubator to a radiant warmer and can provide easier access for mothers and hospital staff.

“The right space and equipment is critical to caring for our tiniest patients and achieving the best outcomes,” said John Pardalos, director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “We want our patients and families to get the very best care with the least amount of stress as possible, and we’re grateful that MizzouThon students are helping us support families and children in this way.”

Research has shown that the use of music can be helpful in managing patient pain and aiding patients in expressing emotions related to their hospital experiences. The Women’s and Children’s Hospital added music therapy services to its Child Life program in 2013. The hospital’s music therapist, Emily Herzog, has had more than 10,000 visits with pediatric patients and families.

“Our music therapy program offers an innovative way for children to explore their emotions and experiences while in the hospital,” said Keri Simon, executive director of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. “Being in a hospital as a kid can be a difficult experience, but music can be a powerful tool. Through music therapy, children can connect with others, find an outlet for emotional expression, improve their ability to cope and also have some fun and focus on being a kid.”

MizzouThon was founded in 2008 and is the largest student-run philanthropy at MU. The student organization works year-round to provide financial and emotional support to pediatric patients in mid-Missouri. The group’s main fundraising event is a 13.1-hour dance marathon where participants are required to raise a minimum of $100 before attending. Last year, the event raised more than $307,000. MizzouThon is part of Dance Marathon, a national organization with philanthropies at high schools and colleges across the U.S. This year’s MizzouThon will take place on April 6.

Join MAA