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CUs iNational Journali to revitalize playground at Tampa childrens hospital
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (4/13/12)--All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., will soon boast a freshly renovated playground for its patients and their families through funds raised with the help of credit unions. Groundbreaking took place yesterday on the "leave behind" project, which will retrofit an existing playground with special play equipment for ill and injured children suffering from a variety of illnesses and accidents, will honor the 2012 Republican National Convention taking place in nearby Tampa.

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Board Chair Mike Mercer, League of Southeastern Credit Unions President/CEO Patrick La Pine, the National Journal Group's Political Correspondent and event emcee Beth Reinhard, All Children's Hospital's Physician-in-Chief and Interim President Dr. Jonathan Ellen, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) broke ground for the playground project.

Mayor Foster said he is "grateful to everyone who is helping to make this playground a lasting legacy for the families of St. Pete," and  Congressman Young said "seeing all these groups come together to provide a safe place where children can rehabilitate while at the same time play and have fun is a way in which they can give back to our area and demonstrate what the spirit of the upcoming convention is all about."

La Pine noted that Florida credit unions have a long history of supporting All Children's Hospital, with $1.5 million in donations and supporting the development of a 28-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a state-of-the art dialysis wing and a new autism center. The playground project gives the league and others a chance "to demonstrate that credit unions are local and give more to their communities than just financial services."

Dr. Ellen thanked the group for making the vision of a therapeutic playground "a reality for All Children's patients and their families."

The Republican National Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27 and end on August 30.

A similar project that would build a rooftop playground was kicked off last week at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte is the location of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (See related April 6 News Now story, CUs help kick off hospital project for conventions)

Since 2000, credit unions have honored the host cities for each national convention with a "leave behind" project that benefits local communities.

The two projects will cost a combined $600,000, and credit unions nationwide, the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation, CO-OP Financial Services, and CUNA Mutual Group are raising funds for the projects. National Journal is also sponsoring the renovations.

Credit unions really see this as an opportunity to leave something positive behind that will continue to benefit the Charlotte and Tampa communities long after the balloons have dropped and the convention ended," CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney said.

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