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CUs iNational Journali help launch Tampa hospital project
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (4/13/12)--All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., will soon boast a freshly renovated playground for its patients and their families through funds raised with the help of credit unions. Groundbreaking took place Wednesday on the "leave behind" project, which will retrofit an existing playground with special play equipment for ill and injured children and  will honor the 2012 Republican National Convention taking place in nearby Tampa.

Click for slide showCredit union representatives helped kick off a renovation project to benefit All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. at a groundbreaking event this week. CUNA, state credit union leagues, credit unions nationwide and the National Journal are working together on the "leave-behind" project to honor the Republican National Convention to be held in Tampa in August. Shown here breaking ground (L to R): Brendan Garrison; Beth Reinhard of National Journal; Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions; Cynthia Scott-Butler; Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.); Riley Christian; Mike Mercer, CUNA chair and president /CEO, Georgia Credit Union League & Affiliates; Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Interim president/CEO of All Children's; St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster; and Caden Riley. (CUNA Photo)
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Chair Mike Mercer, League of Southeastern Credit Unions President/CEO Patrick La Pine, the National Journal Group's Political Correspondent and event emcee Beth Reinhard, All Children's Hospital's Physician-in-Chief and Interim President Dr. Jonathan Ellen, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) broke ground for the playground project.

Foster said he is "grateful to everyone who is helping to make this playground a lasting legacy for the families of St. Pete."  Young said "seeing all these groups come together to provide a safe place where children can rehabilitate while at the same time play and have fun is a way in which they can give back to our area and demonstrate what the spirit of the upcoming convention is all about."

La Pine noted that Florida credit unions have a long history of supporting All Children's Hospital, with $1.5 million in donations and supporting the development of a 28-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a state-of-the art dialysis wing, and a new autism center. The playground project gives the league and others a chance "to demonstrate that credit unions are local and give more to their communities than just financial services," he said.

On behalf of the hospital, Ellen thanked the group for making the vision of a therapeutic playground a reality for All Children's patients and their families.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin on Aug. 27 and end on Aug.  30 in Tampa.

A similar project to build a rooftop playground was kicked off last week at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte is the location of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (See related April 6 News Now story: "CUs help kick off hospital project for conventions.")

Since 2000, credit unions have honored the host cities for each national convention with a "leave behind" project that benefits local communities.

The two 2012 projects will cost a combined $600,000, and credit unions nationwide, the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, CO-OP Financial Services, and CUNA Mutual Group are raising funds for the projects.

Credit unions really see this as an opportunity to leave something positive behind that will continue to benefit the Charlotte and Tampa communities long after the balloons have dropped and the convention ended," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said.


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