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February 15, 2012

Children’s Hospital supporters give $2.3 million

Siewert Smith
Siewert Smith

J. Michael Smith has pledged to give $1.3 million to Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Mark Siewert has committed to a $1 million gift. The gifts are among the first large individual gifts to go toward the children’s hospital $100 million campaign. The campaign is part of the Medical Center’s $650 million campaign and the overall $1.2 billion goal of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester.

Smith and his wife, Alice, have always had a passion for giving back. He serves as cochair of the fundraising campaign for Golisano Children’s Hospital, and Alice Smith has been a lifetime educator and volunteer. The Smiths have pledged to give $1 million to Golisano Children’s Hospital.
“Mike is truly a community leader. We’re honored to have him play such an important role in the campaign and are thrilled about Mike and Alice’s very generous donation,” says Nina Schor, pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital and the William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics at the Medical Center.

Smith was compelled to start helping Golisano Children’s Hospital about five years ago, when friends of the hospital began introducing him to some of the hospital’s leaders, including Schor; Bradford Berk, CEO of the Medical Center; and Elizabeth “Lissa” McAnarney, former pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital, who serves alongside Smith as cochair of the children’s hospital campaign.

“That’s when the indoctrination began,” Smith jokes. “I started learning about all the things that went on in Golisano Children’s Hospital and all the immense challenges the hospital was facing, despite the incredible difference the hospital was making for families not just in Rochester, but across the region, too, from Batavia to Geneva and as far south as the Pennsylvania border. Because the Department of Pediatrics and its faculty serve every health care system and pediatric practice in the region, this was a great way for us to continue our efforts.”

Moved by the generosity he saw in his friends, such as hospital namesake B. Thomas Golisano, and impressed by the passion and dedication he saw in hospital leaders, Smith joined the children’s hospital board in 2006. In 2008, Smith and his wife served as honorary chairs for Golisano Children’s Hospital’s gala. Smith’s company, the Cabot Group, also lent a support to the gala that year, serving as presenting sponsors, and his company committed to serve as presenting sponsors for the gala until 2017. Smith has also been part of the sponsorship committee for the hospital’s annual Golf Classic, and the Cabot Group has provided sponsorship for the golf fundraiser over the years as well. Those sponsorships, along with the gift toward the building, make the Smiths’ commitment total $1.3 million.

Smith is proud to help lead the charge, as Golisano Children’s Hospital moves forward with plans to build a brand new hospital and enhance its pediatric programs to better serve the community.

“When I agreed to be co-chair of Golisano Children’s Hospital campaign, I knew that you really have to lead by example,” says Smith. “When you commit to really supporting something, you have to stand by it. When one thinks about it, what could possibly be more important and more rewarding than helping kids?”

Siewert, chair of the Golisano Children’s Hospital Board of Directors and cochair of the hospital’s campaign, has committed to a $1 million gift toward the hospital’s campaign. The gift from Siewert and his wife, Marcia, will support a new children’s hospital and major enhancements to pediatric programs.

“Not only is building the hospital important, but each one of the programs is also important,” says Siewert, former owner of Siewert Equipment Company. “You really have to build both at the same time. You have to ratchet them both up.”

Schor says donors like the Siewerts are forward thinking and want to see the hospital succeed far into the future.

“Mark and Marcia are part of a new wave of donors Golisano Children’s Hospital is embracing throughout this campaign. They are integral to the success of both the new building and the programs that will be housed within it,” Schor says. “They understand that we need to endow positions and programs to improve them but also to ensure they are there and of high quality for future generations of children.”

Siewert is in a special position to understand how important it is to have expert care in the Finger Lakes region. A decade ago, his son, Mark Daniel Siewert, was in need of those services. Following surgery, Mark Daniel spent eight months in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Throughout that process, the Siewerts saw the dedication of the hospital’s physicians, nurses, and staff. Siewert was compelled to join the hospital’s fundraising board while his son was still a patient. Ultimately, Mark Daniel lost his battle, but the couple felt the need to give back to the hospital that had tried so hard to save their son.

From the many nights th e Siewerts spent in the PICU, they knew how much a bigger, more modern PICU was needed so they helped to raise money to build that unit, which opened in late 2004. When the hospital launched its effort to build the new Pediatric Surgical Suite, the Siewerts immediately saw the benefits of building in more space for family and for building the pre-surgical and post-surgical areas in a way that would allow parents to be with their children as much as possible throughout the process. That suite opened in 2006.

Siewert took over duties as board chair in June 2010, embracing his dual role as board chair and a campaign leader, which is underscored his gift. He and Marcia are excited to help the hospital continue to improve its facilities and its programs.

“I love Rochester,” Siewert says. “Having a good children’s hospital is good for the city; it’s good for employment; it’s good for businesses.
“Employees don’t have to go out of town to find care for their children. If we had had to go to Pittsburgh or Cleveland or New York City—as I ran the business—I don’t know how I would have done that.”

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