Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kids help create joke book to raise funds for children with health needs

Why did the clown go to the doctor? 

He was feeling kinda funny.

This is no April Fool’s joke — kids are helping kids feel better.

With the help of kids from around the nation, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) collected more than 600 popular and original jokes, funny one-liners, knock-knock jokes and silly tongue-twisters for a new joke book designed to be an uplifting, boredom-busting page turner that would inspire any reader, whether in a hospital, doctor’s waiting room or long car ride.

The "Little Book – Big Laughs Joke Book,” will be available April 1 at for $5.99 and in addition to creating smiles, proceeds from the book will be used to help fund child medical grants for local families in need. 

Since 1999, the Foundation has funded more than 6,500 child medical grants totaling more than $20 million. Last year, six grants were awarded to families in Pennsylvania while more than 1,700 grants, worth more than $5.6 million, were awarded nationwide for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy.  Unfortunately, many families in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. are unaware of this great resource which is another reason why the Foundation came up with the idea for the book.  Our goal this year is to award 2,100 grants nationwide and the proceeds from the sale of this book can help us reach our goal.

To be eligible for a grant, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the United States and have a commercial health insurance plan (does not have to be with UnitedHealthcare). Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at Applications are accepted throughout the year, with no deadline to apply.

 The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity which is governed by an independent National Board of Directors. It is not a division or department of UnitedHealthcare or UnitedHealth Group, but enjoys their strong support.

UnitedHealthcare wants to help as many families as possible.  Families with multiple qualifying children can apply for multiple grants.  The limit for each child is $5,000 within a 12-month period and $10,000 within the child’s lifetime.  Applications take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.  The length of the review process varies, but usually takes between one and three months.  UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation is now accepting applications at

Knock, knock…who’s there? 
I am. 
I am who?
You don’t know who you are?

Laughter truly is the best medicine!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pay it forward

Many of my readers may be familiar with the concept of “paying it forward,” a term popularized by Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book Pay It Forward.  The idea is to do something to help someone, and instead of them paying back the favor, they pay it forward by helping someone else in need.

The action might be small, such as paying for a tank of gas for someone at the gas station who may need it, or it may be large, such as helping someone buy a plane ticket to get home to their family.  The point is that people will help others as they have been helped, thereby starting a chain of good will.

The concept has been on my mind often lately in light of a recent award I received and the good will that I myself was the recipient of as a student at Randolph Macon College.

On March 14, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce honored me with their 2014 Paradigm Award.  Now in its 22nd year, the annual award honors a local business woman whose leadership and dedication to family, career and the community makes her a strong role model for others. 

While the award is certainly a flattering accolade, the award focuses on the importance of being a strong role model for others, serving to help, support and inspire them just as other people have done for me along the way.  In other words, I need to pay it forward!

At UnitedHealthcare, paying it forward is a part of our culture.  Last year, in Pennsylvania we gave more than $350,000 to organizations such as Bridge Educational Foundation, the YMCA, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, March of Dimes, Team Pennsylvania and others that help build stronger, healthier communities.  Our Pennsylvania employees donated more than 2,000 volunteer hours to help nonprofit organizations.  And as part of our employee giving campaign, pledged more than $325,000, which UnitedHealthcare matched dollar for dollar.

So it’s time for me to pay it forward, too.  I’ve designated the $25,000 charitable gift that accompanies the Paradigm Award to support Leadership Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization which helps connect businesses and professionals with opportunities to serve the community.  Leadership Philadelphia is using a portion of the donation for its “Pay It Forward” campaign and is giving a random group of people who attended the Paradigm Awards luncheon a small amount of cash to complete acts of service and compassion for someone in need without the expectation of personal reward.

As they use the cash to selflessly help others, they are encouraged to share their experiences with Leadership Philadelphia.  I can’t wait to hear their stories, and I hope they will inspire my readers just as they inspire me.