People wearing lab coats, Columbia Chamber of Commerce jackets, and Missouri Farmers Association Oil Company red polo shirts crowded around a giant pair of scissors.
Representatives from each organization cut a ribbon for the Pediatric and Adolescent Specialty Clinic, the newest addition to the University of Missouri’s Children’s Hospital. The clinic has been open since 2011.
The ceremony celebrated MFA Oil’s commitment to raising $100,000 for the Children’s Hospital, a donation which contributed to the new clinic.
MFA Oil, based in Columbia, is in the third year of that commitment. The company raises money through its annual Poker Run, in which contestants stop at locations across the state to pick up a playing card. The event ends in Jefferson City when players have collected five cards.
“We wanted to have some fun and raise some money at the same time,” said MFA Oil spokesman Tom May. “And through that idea we created the MFA Oil Poker Run.”
May said the Poker Run has raised $138,000 over the past three years. The money has been split between the Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.
“The Poker Run helps raise awareness for two great things in our community, and it helps out the organizations,” May said.
MFA Oil employs 1,500 people in central Missouri, many of whom, including May himself, have used the Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Hospital.
“These are lifesaver places,” he said.
Kellie Coats, director of development for MU Health Care, said MFA Oil, Ronald McDonald House and the Children’s Hospital all serve the same communities across Missouri.
“We see kids from at least 113 of 115 counties in Missouri,” said Tim Fete, medical director of MU Children’s Hospital.
He added that the Children’s Hospital sees 25,000 patients per year, and is able to offer “a breadth of specialties. We can take care of almost any need a child has.”
Philanthropic donations are a significant part of the Children’s Hospital’s funding.
Fete said donations help cover clinical costs, gas and food expenses for families who have to travel, pay for equipment needed in the facilities and support research.
The hospital offers routine care for children, but it also provides a large range of specialties, from asthma treatment to orthopedic care to NICU facilities.
The donation money from the Poker Runs will go into the Children’s Hospital’s general facilities fund, and expansion is planned, Fete said.
“Our goal is to take care of kids all around mid-Missouri, and rural Missouri as well,” he said. “We are very excited to be partners with MFA.”