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Ambulance fundraiser a success
Businessman gives $360K toward cause
Childrens WEB 1
Guests at a fundraiser Thursday inspect a pediatric ambulance. - photo by Jim Dean

How to help

Donations for the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric ambulance, which will be stationed at the local facility on Peachtree Parkway can be made at www.choa.org/supportforsyth or by calling Beth Buursema at (404) 785-7691.

More than half the cost of a pediatric ambulance was raised during a fundraiser Thursday night.

RBM Atlanta North, an official Mercedes-Benz dealership on McFarland Parkway, held the event for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

According to Beth Buursema, community outreach liaison for Children’s, about 400 people attended. “It was unreal,” she said.

While official totals weren’t yet available, Buursema said about $405,000 was raised, with a large part of that coming from a local business owner.

Tommy Bagwell, owner of American Proteins in north Forsyth, presented a check for $360,000.

Bagwell said his wife, Chantel, serves on the community board for the Children’s Forsyth location.

“We talked a lot about it and this was something that met our requirements for giving,” Bagwell said. “We primarily give to educational causes, things that can help people better their lives, and also things for kids. So this was a good fit.”

The evening featured the roll out of several new Mercedes 2012 models, as well as food “bites” from several area restaurants, wine tastings and a silent auction.

The money raised will go toward the purchase of a fully-outfitted pediatric ambulance, which will be housed at the Children’s location at The Avenue Forsyth on Peachtree Parkway.

The vehicle will cost about $700,000, although hospital leaders would like to raise $1 million to cover the operating and maintenance costs associated with it.

Thursday’s event helped them draw much closer to that goal.

Linda Cole, Children’s vice president of ambulatory and emergency services, thanked Bagwell for his family’s donation.

“We’re very appreciative of what [the Bagwells] have done,” she said. “Ten minutes can make a huge difference in one child’s life.”

Cole was referring to faster response times that can be achieved with the specialized vehicle.

Mark Chapman drives one of Children’s five pediatric ambulances. Seven of them are needed to provide proper coverage across the state.

He said such vehicles are needed because standard ambulances don’t always have the specialized equipment needed for young patients.

“For example, if a patient is under five kilos, they have to be placed in an [incubator],” Chapman said. “And you have to have a generator to power that [incubator] and a lift to move it into and out of the ambulance.

“I have to have equipment to fit from the tiniest babies up to 200 or 300 pounds. You’re standard 911 ambulances just don’t have that.”

Bagwell challenged others to give as much as they could to the cause, saying the ambulance will be a “point of pride” for Forsyth County.

“It will be based here, but will serve children all over north Georgia,” he said.