By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Sara Reeves
The statewide auxiliary groups of Arkansas Children’s Hospital – called Circle of Friends – support and honor the hospital’s world-renowned compassionate care. Splash of Red, hosted by the Circle of Friends Garland County chapter, is one of the largest and most successful annual events. Jennifer Selig, director of development at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation, recognizes the critical role volunteers play as ACH ambassadors throughout the state. “For more than 30 years, Circle of Friends volunteers have dedicated their time and talents to fundraising for Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Together, 13 chapters have raised more than $10 million dollars for our programs. Circle of Friends volunteers truly embody our mission and are championing children so that they may be better today and healthier tomorrow.”
Garland County Circle of Friends aficionados Ali and Joel Rush experienced the unprecedented pediatric care ACH provides children in Arkansas. Both of their sons have been treated at the hospital and they are inspired by the stories of other ACH families.
Their introduction to Circle of Friends came eight years ago when Ali, originally from Massachusetts, attended the local membership drive. “It seemed like a fun group of women and the more I learned about the hospital, the more inspired I was to help.”
Joel, CEO of The Learning Center and TLI Print, participates as a sponsor and supports the group’s printing needs.
They support Circle of Friends because the need continues. “Joel and I hear stories that make us appreciate how lucky we are to have Arkansas Children’s Hospital, but it relies on support from donors to continue to provide the best care to children in Arkansas – regardless of the ability to pay. No parent should ever have to worry about whether or not they can afford health care for their child.”
Eleven-thousand Garland County patients were treated at ACH last year, Ali notes. “When our Circle of Friends members go into the schools for fundraisers and education programs, we learn how every child has either been to the hospital or knows someone who has. We also provide instructional programs like car-seat safety check – most car seats aren’t installed correctly.”
Expect lots of fun at this year’s Splash of Red, Ali says. Held at the Hamp Williams Building in historic downtown Hot Springs, there will be live and silent auction items, food catered by three local restaurants and live music by Moxie. “Splash is known for its more laidback vibe, so it’s always a fun time,” Ali adds.
For fun, they enjoy horse racing. Joel also enjoys racing vintage motorcycles. Ali stays busy with their 7- and 11-year-old sons. As a family, their favorite Hot Springs spot is DeLuca’s Pizzeria.
Splash of Red, formerly touted as “Mash Bash,” got its name from an “Oprah” party planner, who noted a splash of color creates a good theme for any event. Thus, “Splash of Red” was born.