Story by Vanessa Dickerson. Photos courtesy of Children’s Health Foundation.
Not all superheroes wear capes—some wear bowties.
If you have ever been inside a Children’s Health campus, you know the superpower of the people within the hospital walls. You can see the superpower of positivity, superpower of energy, superpower of love, and superpower of support. Brent Christopher has been the president of Children’s Medical Center Foundation since 2016, leading a team of funding professionals who are passionate about building healthier communities.
Prior to Children’s, Brent was the CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT), where he and his team worked to create North Texas Giving Day, one of the largest giving days in the country. Brent had worked previously at Children’s Healthcare before CFT as the Director of Development, so his second post at Children’s was a welcome return—a return to “taking a deeper dive on a single mission, one I already knew and loved, making life better for children,” says Brent.
The Children’s team saw incredible community support during more than a year of COVID-19, including prepared and packaged foods, as well as supplies donated. Volunteers also stepped in with virtual storytimes, and childcare for frontline workers who were wrestling with their own basic needs as sheltering in place became the norm. Brent also notes that financial support increased 41% thanks to generous donors.
“With COVID, everyone faced unique challenges, but that did not stop childhood illnesses and emergencies. Some families were afraid to seek treatment due to the fear of catching COVID,” says Brent. “We learned several lessons and made a decision to undertake a capital project due to the need for more clinic and hospital space. We will be expanding the Plano campus with mindful materials in universal room models that can easily convert for space needed at that time.” Brent also mentions the necessity for added mental health services as the pandemic exacerbated mental health needs. “New approaches to intervene at early stages with a full spectrum of services and telehealth partnering with school districts is an important wave of the future.”
When asked about how Brent and his own family fared during COVID, he said they spent a lot of time trying new recipes from an old recipe book he pulled out of hiding, paired with a new multi-purpose pan. The Christopher family also started a rhythm of game nights and movie nights. His daughter came home to Dallas from college in California and graduated virtually this spring, and his son will start his junior year of high school this fall.
If you saw Brent during a virtual event this past year, you’ll remember that he’s known for his bowties, a style choice he began more than 25 years ago, and his traditional ties slowly made their way to the back of the closet over time. He has received a call from time to time to help tie a friend’s bowtie and has provided tips and lessons. “They’re just fun,” he says.
Bowtie or not, Brent is focused on the mission of helping everyone be a part of making life better for children by linking arm and arm to be an unstoppable force. Children’s Red Balloon League offers many ways to support the cause with time and resources. The Children’s Healthcare Network is ranked in the top ten of the nation’s children’s hospitals, ranked ten out of ten in special services and promotes the three Cs—Care, Cures and Community. Caring for children and providing hope for their future is paramount. The expanded Plano campus is being designed to bring new hope, ensuring that care is delivered how and where it is needed most.
Upcoming events include a partnership with Top Golf and McCarthy Construction appropriately named: Swing for Miracles. John Senden, a professional golfer, whose son Jacob has been a patient at Children’s, will also be joining the event in September.
In October, The Boo Yard Challenge with the Women’s Auxiliary returns for another year of trickery for community support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.