The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa was the setting for the Jacksonville stop on the national Torch Relay for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Nov. 12, helping to raise funds for hospitals that provide life-saving treatments for children.
Approximately 100 volunteers from hotels and resorts across the First Coast gathered at the Sawgrass Marriott to welcome the torch and participate in a three-mile walk, raising more than $6,000 that CMNH Jacksonville Director Emily Williamson said would go directly to local hospitals.
“All of the funds raised here will stay right here in the community, going to UF Health and Wolfson Children’s Hospital,” Williamson told participants. “My job is to find the machines that hospitals need most and purchase them.”
For example, Children’s Miracle Network fundraising proved lifesaving for 4-year-old Celeste, who experienced complications at birth that resulted in her being deprived of oxygen for an extended period. But thanks to fundraising efforts like the Torch Relay, the hospital had cool-cap technology that cooled Celeste’s brain and allowed it to heal, saving her life and preventing her from suffering any long-term disabilities.
“The money you’re raising here today will benefit other kids in our community like Celeste – kids you know,” Williamson said.
Initially begun in 2002 as a relay that started in Miami and ended in Orlando, the Torch Relay expanded to Northeast Florida and Georgia before becoming a nationwide event. This year’s event will visit 20 cities from coast to coast.
Since its inception, the Torch Relay has raised more than $11 million for children’s hospitals across the country.