Banner Children’s

When You Play, Kids Win.


Alex – Banner Children’s Hospital School


Addie – Banner Children’s Comprehensive Care


Wendy – Banner Children’s Music Therapy

Get ready for great fun and doing lots of good at the Banner Children’s Charity Golf Classic. All proceeds from the golf tournament will benefit Banner Children’s, which includes our pediatricians and specialists throughout the Valley, eight pediatric-prepared Emergency Rooms, three Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units, Cardon Children’s Medical Center in the East Valley, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in the West Valley, and Diamond Children’s Medical Center in Tucson. Banner Children’s provides more care for more kids than any other health system in Arizona. Your support of the Banner Children’s Charity Golf Classic enhances pediatric health care programs like school-based health centers, injury prevention, music therapy, child life and the hospital school.

Tournament participants are playing for an exceptionally good cause. Learn more about some very special Banner Children’s patients and innovative programs that are typical benefactors of this golf event by clicking above. And, keep reading, below, for details on this year’s beneficiary – Banner Children’s Hospital School program – and how the school was started.

How the Banner Children’s Hospital School Got Its Start

When Kevin Smith’s daughter Shannon began feeling under the weather in December 2004, the family chalked it up to a common cold.

In San Diego for a family vacation, Shannon took over-the-counter medication and continued to splash in the ocean and visit theme parks. But when the family returned home to Goodyear, Ariz., Shannon’s illness got worse.

A family doctor diagnosed her with a sinus infection, but a trip to the emergency room and a CAT scan a few days later revealed devastating news – 10-year-old Shannon had a brain abscess and needed emergency surgery in the next 24 hours.

Smith, a State Farm® agent, was stunned. But the surgery went well and after 14 days in the Pediatric ICU, “we thought we were going home,” he said when a second abscess was discovered. After another surgery, doctors placed Shannon in a weeklong drug-induced coma. She ended up staying in Banner Children’s Hospital at Banner Desert Medical Center for a month.

“When you’re in there that long with that many people, you tend to get attached,” Smith said. “Even after Shannon was discharged, we were back constantly.” Smith and his wife Betsy, a teacher, noticed that with many of the children’s long-term stays, the nurses at Banner were acting as tutors. They learned that from 2003-2005, children admitted to the facility missed more than 30,000 days of school.

“The nurses were doing everything they could, but said that they can’t teach algebra the right way or multiplication and subtraction,” Smith said. With the help of hospital administration, staff and a local retired principal, he and his wife began a pilot program for a hospital “school.” In the program proposal, teachers would be hired to work in the hospital to help with school work and teach bedside lessons.

Smith then went to Vice President – Agency Mike Dannewitz and asked for advice on how to sustain the program. “Little did I know that Mike would take this on with such devotion,” Smith said. “The wheels started rolling immediately. Mike said, ‘Absolutely, we want to do this.’”

Dannewitz connected a fund-raising program with State Farm’s September 2007 Life Insurance Awareness Month. For each application written in the state of Arizona during the months of August through November, money was put into a fund for the hospital school.

“State Farm actively supports efforts to ensure all children have access to an education that will allow them to achieve their greatest potential,” Dannewitz said. “There are many diverse efforts proposed to improve the public education system. Banner Children’s Hospital School is yet another way to keep our children’s minds engaged while they are away from their classmates and the classroom.”

On Jan. 18, State Farm presented a $150,000 check, which included $135,000 to fulfill the proposal and hire a full-time and part-time teacher. Those funds will also allow the hospital school to install interactive distance learning equipment so that classroom teaching can be video-streamed into the patients’ rooms. The donation will also be used to purchase computers and materials so teachers can email homework back and forth.

The additional $15,000 was to fund part of the teachers’ salaries in 2009. “It’s just powerful what State Farm was able to do,” Smith said. “It’s been such a great and unbelievable experience that came out of an almost-tragedy.”

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