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Primary Children’s fundraiser hits 100 years of helping kids

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Aug 14, 2022

Photo supplied, Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City is shown in this undated photo.

Shortly after Belle Winegar was born, she had trouble keeping her food down, so her parents took her to Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in the hopes of finding a quick diagnosis.

Unfortunately, the Bountiful baby ended up staying at the hospital for eight months, diagnosed with a rare congenital disorder called glycosylation, which can cause developmental delays and seizures.

Belle also suffered from pneumonia, sepsis, life-threatening bleeding from her gastrointestinal system, collapsed lungs and cardiac arrest.

Despite having to use a wheelchair and suffering from epilepsy and cortical blindness, Belle is a happy 2-year-old today who loves her pet cat, playing outside and participating in music. She visits the children’s hospital every month to receive treatments for her condition.

“Thanks to donations, Primary Children’s is a world-renowned hospital with top-notch doctors, nurses, therapists and more,” said Belle’s mother, Hailee Winegar. “Belle exudes pure joy, and her joy is contagious. Everyone can feel her light and her inner strength. My hope is that she has a joyful and fulfilled life. Belle may have a different path than most, but it will still be an amazing one.”

To help with the costs of her medical bills, Belle’s family received donations from the hospital’s Pennies by the Inch campaign, the nation’s oldest grassroots fundraiser.

Penny’s by the Inch is celebrating 100 years of helping children in need at the hospital.

“Pennies by the Inch has endeared generations of children to Primary Children’s Hospital and created lifelong stewards of the hospital,” said Janet DeWolfe, executive director of the Intermountain Foundation at Primary Children’s Hospital. “We are thrilled to celebrate a century of giving, which has helped build a foundation of expert care that will benefit children into the next century.”

An outgrowth of “Penny Parades” of the early 1900s, Pennies by the Inch has engaged generations of children who, on their birthdays, were invited to give Primary Children’s Hospital one penny for every inch they were tall.

Pennies by the Inch has been a door-to-door fundraising campaign supported by volunteers in Utah, Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming. In addition to traditional fundraising efforts, newer online giving opportunities allow participation from people and business all over the world.

“Because of Pennies by the Inch, Primary Children’s has become what we believe to be the nation’s only hospital built for children, by children, and helped create the giving spirit for which our community is well known,” said Katy Welkie, Primary Children’s Hospital chief executive officer and vice president of Intermountain Children’s Health.

“How inspiring it is to stand on the foundation for children’s health care that has been fortified over the years through gifts such as these, and to be able to continue our primary promise to put the child first and always at Primary Children’s as we build the model health system for generations of children to come,” she added.

The Winegars said they are grateful for the cause.

“On many occasions, we almost lost her, but our tiny daughter pulled through,” Hailee Winegar said. “It’s amazing to me to think that Pennies by the Inch is celebrating 100 years, or 36,500 days, of helping families like mine at Primary Children’s Hospital. I note the number of days because when your child is in the hospital, you have to take every day one at a time.”

If you would like to donate, go to PenniesByTheInch.org.

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