Thursday, 19 June 2008

Charitable Donations: Mario Lemieux Foundation

Hockey Blog In Canada is proud to bring another charitable organization to the forefront today, and this one is one I have personally supported this year. I try to give to charities and organization that do things to benefit the community, especially if those efforts are helping children. Children are our future, and should be supported as much as possible. Today, I am proud to present The Mario Lemieux Foundation as the next organization to be featured on this blog. I've always been a Lemieux fan, and this organization - one which helps the smallest of children - is one I have personally supported.

Mission Statement: "The main objective of the Mario Lemieux Foundation is to fund promising medical research projects being conducted by talented scientists". The Mario Lemieux Foundation has funded a number of organization and charities sine its inception in 1993, and continues to help these organizations in their respective missions. The foundation helped to establish the Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as funding the Children's Home of Pittsburgh with some large donations. The foundation most recently established the Austin Lemieux Neonatal Research Project.

How Did The Mario Lemieux Foundation Start?: I'll allow the foundation's webpage to explain how this organization started.

"The Mario Lemieux Foundation was created in 1993 by hockey legend Mario Lemieux. In that year, Mario was enjoying the greatest season of his brilliant career and on pace to establish a new NHL scoring record. Then he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.

"After a successful battle with Hodgkin's, Mario is now twelve years cancer free and his experience led him to focus on ways to assist those not so fortunate. He devotes much of his time to the Foundation raising funds to help reach the ultimate goal: a cure for cancer".

There is also a message from Mr. Lemieux on the website that explains why he decided to start the foundation. I'd like to simply post this portion of the message:

"I know there are many people who are not as fortunate as I am. That is why the Mario Lemieux Foundation continues to be important to me, and why I devote time to raising funds for the Foundation, so we can continue to award grants for cancer research and other worthy causes".

Clearly, as we've seen with other organizations, cancer research gets a lot of funding from members of the NHLPA. The Mario Lemieux Foundation not only supports and funds research in finding a cure for Hodgkin's disease, but for other forms of cancer as well.

The foundation granted a portion of $5 million to establish the multi-disciplinary Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research. This grant went towards creating three important areas of research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center:

  • Mario Lemieux Center for Patient Care
  • Mario Lemieux Laboratory in Pediatric Leukemia Research
  • Mario Lemieux Laboratory in Hodgkin's disease Research
University of Pennsylvania Cancer Institute (UPCI) is western Pennsylvania's only National Center Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, and is ranked 12th in National Cancer Institute funding. "All three Lemieux facilities will advance UPCI's research into the biology and treatment of lymphoma, as well as support current patient care". The grant has made a very good institution into one of the best in the United States.

Another portion of the $5 million grant went towards establishing the Austin Lemieux Neonatal Research Project. Mario and Nathalie Lemieux's only son, Austin, was born three months prematurely at the Magee-Womens Hospital. In going through this experience, Mr. Lemieux devoted his time and monetary efforts in helping the neonatal unit at the Magee-Womens Hospital to better serve the smallest of children. Today, Austin is a healthy twelve year-old boy who loves hockey as much as his dad did. Thanks to the Magee-Womens Hospital and the Mario Lemieux Foundation, many other premature babies will be able to grow up healthy and strong like Austin has.

A third portion of the $5 million grant went towards helping the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Named in memory of the institution's founder, Mr. William McGowan, the institution works "to develop mechanical and bio-artificial organs to reduce human suffering and extend the life of patients suffering from acute medical conditions or end-stage organ failure from chronic disease". The Mario Lemieux Foundation's generous donation helped to fund various projects and research that the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine was working on.

However, Mario and Nathalie Lemieux recognized that there was more they could do. While they were tending to young Austin at the Magee-Womens Hospital, they realized that there was no place for their young daughters, Lauren and Stephanie, to hang out and play. Nathalie Lemieux came up with a plan to raise funds for playrooms in the various hospitals in western Pennsylvania to help ease the burden on parents. From this idea, The Playroom Project was born. There have been more than 15 playrooms opened with the help of the Mario Lemieux Foundation in just over eight years.

Clearly, the foundation is making an impact all over western Pennsylvania, and they are helping both children and adults overcome adversity with their donations to the institutions and hospitals in western Pennsylvania.

The foundation doesn't rely simply on the efforts of the Lemieux family, though. Mario Lemieux organizes and hosts a celebrity golf tournament each year to help raise funds for the Mario Lemieux Foundation. While the event is closed to the public, there are a number of sponsorship opportunities of which one can take advantage. While I understand that not all of us have that kind of money to toss around, it might be the dream of one person who is reading this. The list of celebrities at the event is quite impressive, though, and the history of the event only gets more and more impressive.

How Can I Help?: As with all charitable organizations, donations are more than welcome. Fill out the form, hit "send donation", and you've helped the Mario Lemieux Foundation. You can also join the mailing list for updates on what's happening with the foundation. You can also participate in an online auction for items with the proceeds going to the foundation.

I decided to help out the Mario Lemieux Foundation by ordering a t-shirt. I ordered the baby blue one, and it turns heads. I get a lot of people asking about where I got my shirt, and now you can get one as well if you wish.

The state of Pennsylvania has even decided to help out. You can order a license plate with the Mario Lemieux Foundation logo for your vehicle if you wish. The cost is $66, and the proceeds go directly to the Mario Lemieux Foundation. Personally, I think that's a pretty unique way to help the foundation out.

Of course, if you have any questions, please email the Mario Lemieux Foundation with your question.

The Mario Lemieux Foundation, the NHLPA, and Mario and Nathalie Lemieux are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: