Aug. 28, 2017 | Members of the Hat Club of Little Rock presented a $15,500 check to the UAMS neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on Aug. 15, earning a symbolic tip of the cap from doctors, nurses and staff.
Blue and white from the Hat Club’s distinctive baseball caps intermingled with strings of more than 50 purple knitted caps ringing the NICU halls – each one representing a preemie born at UAMS during a month’s time.
Hat Club members Ben Viguerie, Erik Bailey and Charlie Kreps presented an oversized check to Tim Hill, chief operating officer for UAMS Health System.
“On behalf of the UAMS Administration and our clinical care teams, we appreciate this wonderful gift made by the Hat Club that allows us to continue our work of caring for these very special little patients,” Hill said.
The funds are proceeds from the 7th Annual Hat Club Salute, a crawfish boil that honors organizations and people that give back to their community. The event features fresh crawfish, drinks, live music, raffle items, a silent auction and the “Crawtucky Derby,” a live crawfish race. Viguerie chaired the event, and Bailey was co-chair.
The Hat Club is an annual sponsor for the Julep Cup Jaunt at UAMS, central Arkansas’ premier Kentucky Derby watch party, which also benefits the NICU.
“This is our eighth year helping the UAMS NICU department, and we look forward to many years to come with great success,” Viguerie said.
“This has been a longstanding relationship between the Hat Club and UAMS, and we thank them sincerely for their continued support,” said Keith Cragg, chair of the UAMS Consortium. “The level of support that they’ve given to UAMS — in excess of $100,000 — is absolutely phenomenal.”
The Hat Club of Little Rock is nonprofit organization committed to helping charitable organizations through fundraising events to better the community.
The club’s website describes its members as “hat fellers,” or “a philanthropic man known by his generosity, commitment to communal causes, kind disposition, his willingness to volunteer his time for the benefit of his neighbors and of course… his distinctive hat.”
NICU doctors and staff were on hand, many in scrubs, to personally thank the Hat Club.
“Let me say on behalf of the NICU how grateful we are for this,” said R. Whit Hall, M.D., a neonatologist and professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. “It’s funding from people like you that allows us to do things that would not normally be possible. We are very, very grateful for the work that you do.”
“A lot of us are fathers – and new fathers, myself included, so we understand the value of what you guys do here,” Bailey said. “It’s easy for us to get out and spend our time and energy to do things like this.”
“The Hat Club could do this anywhere, and for anyone, but they chose us, and we love it,” said Becky Sartini, D.N.P., assistant director of the NICU.