Thank you, Big Lots, for Giving Big and Helping Kids Everywhere!

Big Lots Laith

Thank you Big Lots for your sixth point-of-sale fundraising campaign benefitting Nationwide Children's Hospital. The "Serve Families. Give Big" campaign included all 1,416 Big Lots stores and over 35,000 Big Lots associates working to collect over $3.2 million dollars in customer donations.

"Big Lots and their customers from all over the country continue to demonstrate their kindness following another successful campaign," said Steve Testa, President, Nationwide Children's Hospital Foundation. "This generosity will impact all the patients and families who will walk through Nationwide Children's Hospital's doors for years to come."

Together with Big Lots and the Big Lots Foundation, Nationwide Children's is taking a stand to advance the treatment, research, and care associated with pediatric Behavioral Health. For too long this patient population has gone undiagnosed and underserved. Through Big Lots’ transformational partnership, the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion will be complete in 2020. This will be the largest, free-standing, pediatric research and treatment facility in the country. 

In addition to being a distinguished corporate sponsor, Big Lots associates are generous with their time. Since 2013, volunteers from the Big Lots corporate office in Columbus have visited the hospital’s Family Resource Center twice a month to deliver a variety of books and healthy snacks to patient families. Furthermore, Big Lots is a sponsor of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon Encore Mile. Each mile along the marathon route is represented by a hospital patient champion and the Encore Mile welcomes past marathon Patient Champions to help cheer on race participants.

"Give Big" named 2017 Gold Halo Award Winner

2017 Halo Award

Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Big Lots Foundation are thrilled to be named the 2017 Gold Halo Award Winner in the Point of Sale Campaign category. The Halo Awards, presented by Engage for Good, are North America’s highest honor for corporate social responsibility initiatives and cause marketing campaigns targeted at consumers and/or employees. This prestigious CSR and cause marketing award looks at social good campaigns targeted at consumers and/or employees involving a company and cause.

Read more about our Gold Halo Award

Meet the 2018 Big Lots Patient Champions

Look for these patients and their stories in Big Lots stores nationwide during the fall campaign.


Hometown: Howard, Ohio
Diagnosis: Behavioral Health Conditions
Age: 19

Life no longer felt manageable for 17-year-old Julia when she walked into Nationwide Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Services. She found herself at a crisis point; depressed, anxious and completely exhausted of her thoughts and emotions. Julia was tired of being alive. She spent three days in Nationwide Children’s Youth Crisis Stabilization Unit (YCSU) where she found help, relief and understanding.

“I went home feeling empowered and validated, realizing that asking for help is worth it. Most importantly, I left knowing that although my battle with mental health was not over, I had an endless army of fighters standing with me. To me, Nationwide Children’s Hospital means the freedom to be vulnerable, broken, and scared. It’s the freedom to heal. It means the freedom to overcome and to thrive – no matter my diagnosis,” says Julia.

As a national leader in childhood Behavioral Health, Nationwide Children’s is pushing the field forward. Together with Big Lots, Nationwide Children’s is in the process of constructing one of America’s largest behavioral health treatment and research center for children and adolescents on a pediatric campus, set to open its doors in 2020.

Today, Julia is a sophomore in college majoring in social work. She is incredibly passionate about sharing her experiences to help break the stigma surrounding mental health.


Hometown: Laurel, Maryland
Diagnosis: Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
Age: 3

Laith was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a complex congenital heart defect where the structures on the left side of the heart are small and underdeveloped.

Laith and his family came to Nationwide Children’s Hospital from their home in Maryland for his treatment to seek care from Dr. Mark Galantowicz and his team, as well as to receive surgery without blood transfusions due to their religious beliefs. Laith is three years old and has so far endured three open-heart surgeries, six heart catheterizations and two major strokes. Despite this rough start to life, Laith has continued to progress and amaze everyone. Recently, he has even started gymnastics.

“Without the support and services found at Nationwide Children’s, we are sure Laith would not be doing so well today. Dr. Mark Galantowicz, Dr. Darren Berman and the entire staff have been invested in Laith and our whole family since before he was born and we feel like we're ‘home’ when we are under their care. While we know Laith will continue to need surgeries and follow-up care throughout his life, we know we are in great hands with the team at Nationwide Children’s,” says Austria, Laith’s mother.


Hometown: Acworth, Georgia
Diagnosis: Multiple
Age: 6

Evelyn was born in China and needed immediate medical care to survive. She had multiple extensive surgeries in China before the age of two prior to her adoption. Although it was daunting for Evelyn’s adoptive family to know she would need significant and lifelong care, as soon as they saw Evelyn’s face they knew she belonged with them.

Evelyn’s family first learned about Nationwide Children’s Hospital from a Facebook group for families with kids who also have colorectal malformation. Upon the recommendation from other families, Evelyn’s family decided to travel to The Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction at Nationwide Children’s for her care just four months later.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital feels like home – like a medical refuge for our weary family. Though we live nine hours and more than 500 miles away, we turn to Nationwide Children’s again and again for our daughter’s needs,” says Evelyn’s mom, Rebecca.

Today at six years old, Evelyn has already endured more than many will experience in a lifetime. Throughout her many surgeries, infections, procedures, hospital admissions and tests, Evelyn has demonstrated time and time again just how strong a little girl can be. Despite her challenges, Evelyn is a happy kid always up for an adventure. She especially enjoys costumes, singing, dancing and eating and cooking Chinese noodles.


Hometown: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Diagnosis: Ependymoma
Age: 9

When Gabe was just two years old, he was diagnosed with an Ependymoma, a type of brain tumor. He and his parents left their home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma to seek care at both St. Louis Children's Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. After completing treatments at MD Anderson Cancer Center, they returned to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for follow-ups.
After two years of frequent trips to St. Louis, Gabe's neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Leonard, left St. Louis to become Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Gabe’s family chose to follow Dr. Leonard to continue under his care.

“Doctor and clinic appointments are wearisome and waiting for results create a lot of anxiety, and an unsettled stomach. However, we thank the Lord for strengthening our faith through Gabe’s illness and for bringing us to Dr. Leonard and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. At Nationwide Children’s we feel safe, encouraged, and supported as we know Gabe is surrounded by skilled doctors and nurses who understand both children’s and parents’ fears,” say Gabe’s parents, Mark and Anna.

Gabe is now a seven-year survivor. He is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) at school, but is in a regular classroom and remains on grade level in all of his subjects. Although he sometimes suffers from balance and coordination issues, muscle weakness, and mild seizure activity, Gabe still remains happy, resilient, and full of life. He loves to play soccer, watch movies, and learn about running a business, which entails holding mock office meetings with family and friends.


Hometown: Durham, North Carolina
Diagnosis: Multicystic dysplastic kidney disease, Tethered Cord
Age: 9

David’s family’s journey began when his older sister Christin was diagnosed with kidney and spinal issues. She was seen at their local children’s hospital for five years before being referred to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As this was happening 5-year-old David began showing the same symptoms as his sister.

Tests confirmed David was born with Multicystic dysplastic kidney and Tethered Cord. Multicystic dysplastic kidney occurs when one kidney isn’t formed correctly in the womb, and Tethered Cord is where the spinal cord has very limited movement, which can develop into neurological issues as the child grows, especially if left untreated. David had surgery to release his tethered spinal cord and tests and scans were performed on his solitary kidney. He was seven years old when he began treatment at Nationwide Children’s.

“It was scary to think that we were going to have to go to a new state to a new hospital to meet new doctors and try new treatments, but when we walked through the doors there was joy and peace. The treatments and surgeries that our children have received at Nationwide Children’s have given us so much hope for their futures,” says Michelle, David’s mother.

Today, David is thriving on his baseball team. Last year David was selected to compete in the regional tournament on his league’s all-star team. And this year, David and his team were the 2018 City Champions and won the Mayor’s Cup. He loves watching NASCAR, playing basketball with his brother, and taking walks with his family and dog.


Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Diagnosis: Multiple
Age during campaign launch: 9

Adoniya’s first few hours of life were unexpectedly challenging. Shortly after birth, her family found out that she was born with a severe defect that occurs during fetal development in a female’s lower abdominal structures. Adoniya was also born with bone, heart and kidney defects.

After years of several surgeries and not being able to find the help they needed, Adoniya’s parents attended a conference to connect with specialists about their daughter’s challenges. Without any providers specializing in Adoniya’s condition in her home state of Arizona, it was suggested to bring her to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Adoniya and her family traveled to Nationwide Children’s Center for Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction for a two-week series of tests and programs that taught her parents how to help her and returned months later to undergo a procedure to repair the reconstructive surgery she’d had as an infant. At only six years old, this was Adoniya’s ninth surgery. When she was seven and a half, Adoniya returned with her family to Nationwide Children’s for another surgery, this time to remove a distended colon.

“It is very encouraging to be able to be at a place that our daughter is treated not as a number, but as a person. It’s unheard of for a busy surgeon to actually respond almost instantly to a worried parent’s email – but Dr. Marc Levitt did. Although Phoenix is a long commute to Columbus, Ohio, it is well worth it just knowing that there is a team there for our daughter,” says Adoniya’s mother, Ayodele.


Hometown: Thompsonville, Illinois
Diagnosis: Drug Resistant Epilepsy, Right Functional Hemispherectomy
Age: 14

Garrett is a 14-year-old boy who wants to live a normal life. When he was three years old, he received the diagnosis of drug resistant epilepsy. Despite medication, this condition caused Garrett to have seizures daily, mostly at night, which put him at a higher risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).

Garrett made the decision to have a functional hemispherectomy surgery in hopes of becoming seizure-free and improve his quality of life. He did this knowing he would lose some left side vision, function in his left side and would have to re-learn everyday tasks like walking, talking and getting dressed.

“I didn’t want to be afraid to live my life because of my epilepsy. Nationwide Children's Hospital means a chance for me. It means I get to work hard and get back to one hundred percent. My doctors, therapists, nurses, and patient care assistants push me to be better every day. There is always someone encouraging me and pushing me to be better than I was yesterday,” says Garrett. 

Garrett underwent surgery in August 2017 and is doing well in recovery. Although he lost the left fifty percent of his vision in both eyes and the function in his left hand is slow to return, Garrett remains positive. He is gaining function in his left leg and is now able to run. Recently, Garrett even competed in Illinois Special Olympics at the state level. Garrett loves being outdoors, hunting, target shooting and playing basketball. He also enjoys music and dancing.

Give Big with Big Lots

Your gift supports life-saving pediatric behavioral health research. 

The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Coming in 2020: Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion

In recognition of the transformational $50 million gift from Big Lots and the Big Lots Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital named the new behavioral health treatment and research center in their name. When it is completed in 2020, this pavilion will be the largest research and treatment facility, on a pediatric campus, in the country.

It’s a big move to address a national crisis. Behavioral health issues, including suicide, are dramatically increasing among children under the age of 18. One in five children ages 13-18 live with a serious mental illness, but only half of those children will get the treatment they need.

Thank you Big Lots for a BIG move to create a brighter future for our next generation!


Want to learn more about Big Lots' cause marketing efforts for Nationwide Children's?

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Listen to Selfish Giving's podcast The Story Behind Big Lots' $50 Million Gift to Nationwide Children's Hospital.