Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital, the state’s only children’s hospital, thanked their supporters and recognized over a dozen groups or individuals at their annual Hands of Hope Awards Luncheon in Fondren today. The Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne was honored as was the Fondren Zippity Doo Dah® Parade and Festival Weekend.  Speaking of Browne, presenter Miss Mississippi Marie Wicks called her a “steadfast  friend to Mississippi’s children.” Recognized for her efforts to give her time at other Children’s Miracle Network  fundraisers across the country, Wicks said “she has shown us that if one acts as they can make any difference, they will. (This award is) not only for what she has given to our patients, but for her efforts to tell the Batson story to those across the country.”

In recognizing the Zippity Doo Dah® parade and weekend, Wicks said “it takes a village. It takes talent, loads of energy, a little bit of crazy and determination. Fondren’s event is one of the most successful events for Children’s Hospital. We know it’s not possible without the dedication of Fondren businesses, generous sponsors and Patty Peck Honda, whose donation made possible the first ever car raffle to benefit Batson. We extend a neighborly hug to each of you and thank you for the hope you have brought to Batson and our community, especially to our patients.” Fondren Renaissance Executive Director Jim Wilkirson accepted the award.

Dr. James E. Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, called the luncheon “a day to honor all fourteen of you and what you have done.” He told the crowd “you make it possible for us to care.”

Dr. Rick Barr, chairman of pediatrics called Batson “a wonderful institution, a great children’s hospital. We’re only as good as our community support and we thank you for what you do.”

And Sara Ray, Batson board member, said the honorees “have gone above and beyond compassion for our children. Because of your involvement, you make everyone aware and make us a better place.”

Full list of honorees:
Jill Conner Browne, Zippity Doo Dah® Parade and Festival Weekend, Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund, Century Club Charities, Friends of Children’s Hospital, Junior League of Jackson, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Madison Charitable Foundation, Eli Manning, Southgroup, Viking, Wal-Mart, The Whitehead Foundation and Christina Marie Lawrence zddawards

Zippity Doo Dah honorees with Browne (6th from left)