CSUB honored as Corporate Partner of the Year by Bakersfield Memorial Hospital

Dr Mitchell and Hilda NieblasBakersfield Memorial Hospital has designated California State University, Bakersfield as its Corporate Partner of the Year for 2012 in recognition of two student-led initiatives that raised $11,000 for the hospital's pediatric center this year. Students at CSUB held a 12-hour dance marathon in May and a 12-hour video game marathon in October, both of which exceeded sponsorship goals.

The funds go directly to the hospital for purchasing specialty equipment for its Lauren Small Children's Medical Center. The hospital is a member of the Children's Miracle Network, which supports children's hospitals in providing acute care in their communities.

"I can't express enough the impact that CSUB students are making," said Lourdes Nilon, manager of the Children's Miracle Network Program at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. "The corporate partner of the year demonstrates innovation, passion, commitment and sacrifice, and that's what I witnessed first-hand. These fundraisers were organized on the students' own time, despite classes and finals. They worked so hard, and several of them have volunteered to help me with other events as well."

"We are pleased to see our students recognized for their contributions to the local community. This is just another example of the many things they do to make Bakersfield a better place to work and live," said Dr. Thomas Wallace, Vice President for Student Affairs at CSUB.

For each fundraiser, CSUB students contacted Bakersfield Memorial Hospital independently after hearing about similar events at other universities. For student Hilda Nieblas, a dance marathon sounded like a lot of fun for a very worthy cause. She went through the steps to establish a Dance Marathon club at CSUB to recruit volunteers and obtain donations and sponsorships. The event was held in the Student Union, where 250 participants had to stay on their feet for 12 hours, dancing, playing games, and doing other activities. They exceeded their goal of $5,000 and raised more than $6,500.

"The concept is that you are dancing for those who can't," said Nieblas, who is working on her Master of Public Administration at CSUB. "What was really important to me to bring this program to CSUB is that all the money that is raised stays locally. The fact that you could teach students that they could do something for their community but have fun at the same time, and it is guaranteed to help the people around you."

For Ed Webb, founder of the Campus Gamers club at CSUB, the gaming marathon offered students a way to use their passion for charity. While participation in the "Extra Life" gaming marathon is usually done on an individual basis, the CSUB club turned it into a campus event inside the Student Union, with students donating use of their gaming equipment and companies donating items for a silent auction. The club exceeded its goal of $3,000 and raised $4,300.

"Gamers are a very social and generous group," Webb said. "It was very rewarding to see that we could be more effective as a group than if we had each participated individually, and even more so that the funds will be used to help the children of Kern County."

Both student clubs plan to expand their events to raise even more money for the children's hospital in 2013.

Bakersfield Memorial Hospital has been a member of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) for more than two decades and is the only CMNH hospital in Kern County. CMNH helps member hospitals raise money from their local community. All funds raised by the local community stay in Kern County and are dedicated to purchasing state-of-the-art medical equipment for the Lauren Small Children's Medical Center at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. The hospital within a hospital features a 31-bed Level II NICU, a general Pediatrics Department and the first Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Soon, it will also include a Children's Pavilion for Emergency Care and a Children's Garden.

CSUB representatives were honored with the award at the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation's Annual Dinner on Nov. 27, 2012. Also honored were Kevin and Tuesdy Small, the parents of Lauren Small, who passed away at the age of 11 from cancer, and after whom the Children's Medical Center is named. The Smalls were named Benefactor of the Year, while foundation board member Sherrie McMurtrey was named Volunteer of the Year.

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