Our Partnership with Michigan Athletics

Creating the Future of Health Care . . . Through Philanthropy

Since 1991, hundreds of U-M student-athletes have dedicated their Thursday evenings to visiting patients and families at our University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. This partnership can profoundly affect the young students as much as it delights our young patients. For many of the athletes, this experience marks the beginning of a commitment to Mott that continues well after they leave the university.

During their time as Wolverine students and football players, Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson were inspired by this tradition, and since then they have become transformational leaders in supporting advancements in children’s health. Brian and Steve founded Champions for Children’s Hearts in 2007 to raise money for the Mott Children’s Hospital and its Congenital Heart Center. Charles joined them in 2011, establishing the Charles Woodson Research Fund. Together, they have inspired former teammates, coaches, sponsors, fans and participants from across the country to support Mott.

Last month, more than 1,000 people who care about kids gathered in Ann Arbor to celebrate the seventh annual Griese/Hutchinson/Woodson Champions for Children’s Hearts events, including more than 100 former U-M student-athletes, NFL stars, celebrities and coaches. The annual three-day gathering features an 11-hour radio-a-thon, a gala dinner with a live auction, and a golf tournament, and has raised more than $6 million to improve care for our pediatric patients.

The event serves as a powerful example of a remarkable journey of philanthropy, fostered by the caring culture of our U-M student-athlete community that has been a Michigan tradition for decades. I am so grateful for the exemplary philanthropic leadership that Brian, Steve and Charles have shown for the community here at the University of Michigan. I’m also grateful for our ongoing partnership with Michigan Athletics and the support our Michigan Men and Women give to UMHS in countless ways.

Please enjoy this video, which beautifully captures the essence of this inspiring relationship between our Health System and Michigan Athletics:

My Mackinac Experience

Last week, I attended the annual Mackinac Policy Conference because we in the Health System are concerned about the well-being of our state’s citizens and our state’s economy —and the health care industry plays a big part in both. As such, it is incumbent upon the University of Michigan Health System as a leading academic medical center to make sure that health care issues remain a priority among the decision-makers in Michigan.

The state Legislature needs to continue working toward increasing Medicaid coverage to more state residents. This is one of the most important issues in the health care space right now. An additional 450,000 Michigan residents will receive coverage if the state Legislature elects to increase coverage using funding available because of the federal Affordable Care Act. Research shows people with health care coverage receive better care earlier, before problems become more serious. And we know that fewer sick days and lower employer health care costs are good for business of all kinds. Increasing coverage will keep the state’s citizens – and the state’s pocketbook – healthier. The bottom line is that a healthier community is good for the well-being of Michigan.

The Mackinac experience was even better than I had hoped. I talked with policymakers, business leaders, government officials, health care peers and journalists who all share a common goal and interest in hastening Michigan’s economic revival and moving Michigan forward.  I am energized and inspired by what I learned and by the people that I met. This is an amazing state that is full of very driven and passionate people. It was gratifying to be with so many people trying to do the right things for the state of Michigan. I look forward to continuing our work to support this effort.