Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography
Neal Lea goes the extra mile. As a devoted auxiliary member and chairman of Race for a Healthier Tomorrow again this year, Arkansas Children’s knows what to expect from this mover and shaker. This year’s 5K race and 1-mile Family Walk will return as a hybrid event on April 23, with both an in-person race as well as a virtual runner option. The in-person race will be held at the State Capitol steps and the virtual runner option will allow virtual participants to determine individual routes and timelines, while still supporting the patients and families of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Proceeds help keep the promise of a healthier tomorrow for the children of Arkansas.
Neal has experienced the world-class care that delivers the Arkansas Children’s promise. “My oldest daughter Lucy was diagnosed with a heart murmur at her 4-month checkup. We were referred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for additional tests and she has been a patient in the cardiology clinic since then.” When her youngest daughter Taylor was diagnosed with staph scalded skin syndrome at 5 years old, they returned to Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “Thankfully, we caught it early enough for her to be treated in an outpatient setting.” Neal continues, “Although neither child has had to spend the night in the hospital, we have witnessed first-hand the technology at work as well as the care and attention the doctors and nurses give to the patients and families.”
Through her children’s time at the hospital as well as her father’s leadership with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Board of Directors, the auxiliary was a natural fit for Neal. After nearly a decade, her commitment to the organization is steadfast. She serves on Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Board of Directors and has been a part of the Miracle Ball committee as well as a researcher for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital book celebrating the 50-year history of the auxiliary and its support of the Arkansas Children’s vision. Additionally, she volunteers at the Playaway Gift Shop in the hospital, which has been her personal favorite. Neal reflects, “As a result of the time I have put in – I have made new friends from all walks of life, I have learned to wear a lot of different hats and most importantly been able to work as part of a team to accomplish a common goal. All of these are things that I find rewarding.”
Neal Lea is a woman on the move. Through the continued support of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Auxiliary, comprised of nearly 450 women, critical programming and research initiatives are funded. The David M. Clark Center for Safe & Healthy Children provides emergency and trauma support services adjacent to the hospital. “I have been involved with lots of different philanthropic organizations, but Arkansas Children’s Hospital has been a constant for me.” Neal’s unwavering devotion is impressive. “Playing off the hospital’s mission ‘We champion children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow,’ we hope this event will help do just that and reach more children in more ways where they live, learn and play.”