Moving the chains: making progress in western Pennsylvania

Moving the chains: making progress in western Pennsylvania

 

In football country, loyalties run deep and the people alongside you matter. It was fitting, then, that when Huntington introduced itself to the Pittsburgh market and surrounding region, the bank was mindful of whom it chose as teammates.

In football country, loyalties run deep and the people alongside you matter. It was fitting, then, that when Huntington introduced itself to the Pittsburgh market and surrounding region, the bank was mindful of whom it chose as teammates.

“Our focus is on organizations that are authentically local,” said Senior Regional Marketing and Communications Manager Kim Ravenda. “They are the ones transforming our community and serving our neighbors in a real and meaningful way.”1

One organization Huntington has focused on is Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, ranked among the country’s top children’s hospitals.2 Specifically, Huntington wanted to support the hospital’s Free Care Fund, established in the 1950s.3

“The Free Care Fund helps families and kids in the region that may not have the financial means to get the best care,” Ravenda said. “At Children’s Hospital, no child has ever been denied medical care because their families couldn’t afford to pay.”4

In 2013, Huntington ran a fundraising campaign for Children’s Hospital that included television and radio commercials, mini-fundraisers and in-branch calls for donations. “This became the battle cry that marked Huntington’s initial local effort in Pittsburgh,” Ravenda said.

The effort netted $42,000 for the Free Care Fund. Huntington looked forward to continuing the campaign. Then a once-in-125-years opportunity presented itself.

The storied University of Pittsburgh football program (aka Pitt), a nine-time national champion with an impressive record for community service, would celebrate its 125th season of play in 2014. Pitt was also another committed supporter of Children’s.

“The two organizations have worked together for a long time and we saw where we could become a partner alongside them to make a difference,” Ravenda said. “The bottom line is that it’s about being a good neighbor, a good citizen. All you have to do is tour Children’s once and you see the difference they’re making, the lives they’re saving. It’s an experience you’ll never forget. And you leave there wanting to help.”

Ravenda and Huntington had an idea — by combining a football sponsorship with the Children’s Hospital campaign, Huntington could “do something really big in honor of Pitt’s 125th.”5

The result was First Downs for Children’s. In 2014, Huntington donated $125 to Children’s Free Care Fund for every single Panthers first down. Between the productivity of the Panthers offense — 308 first downs in 2014 — and additional donations that came through branches, Huntington was able to send $52,000 to the Free Care Fund.

The timing was serendipitous: After Pitt’s 125th anniversary in 2014, Children’s was celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015, followed by Huntington’s 150th anniversary in 2016. Huntington saw an opportunity to make the First Downs for Children’s campaign a more sustained commitment that could grow, year after year.

In 2015, Huntington again donated $125 for every Panthers first down, and though the offense wasn’t quite as productive — 254 first downs in 20156 — Ravenda joked that “we didn’t get too hung up on the number.”7 Through the First Downs for Children’s program, as well as other fundraising efforts, Huntington donated $55,000 in 2015, putting Huntington in the Top 10 of the hospital’s corporate donors.

Plans have been made for 2016, too. In honor of Huntington’s 150th birthday, the bank will commemorate every first down with a $150 donation.

“The program has really resonated in the community,” Ravenda said. “We have colleagues who are Pitt alums, and they just rave about the program and are proud it. But we also have two colleagues who have experienced firsthand what Children’s is all about. Both have family members that were born with life-threatening conditions. They are undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital and are doing quite well now. They were so touched that Huntington is partnering with Children’s in such a big way.”

Huntington couldn’t have picked two better teammates than Children’s and Pitt’s football team, Ravenda said. “They’re two iconic, respected pillars in the community,” she said. “Without them, the community would be very different.”

For the final Pitt home game each of the last two years, Huntington has hosted a Children’s patient and his or her family in its company suite. “In both cases, we invited a football player who was overcoming cancer. It was amazing to see them go down on the field and help present the Huntington check. It was more than just giving that experience to one family — it felt like Huntington was helping all the patients and families at Children’s in some small way.”

 

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Huntington Harnesses the community support of the University of Pittsburgh’s football program to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Credit: University of Pittsburgh

 

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Huntington’s First Downs Program raised $55,000 for Children’s in 2015. Credit: Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC