Mario Lemieux Foundation luncheon and fundraiser brings in $150,000 for playrooms in medical facilities.
Each year, Nathalie Lemieux, wife of Pittsburgh Penguins legend Mario Lemieux, hosts a special luncheon and silent auction for the most influential women in Pittsburgh. The annual gathering is in support of their uniquely personal foundation initiative, Austin’s Playroom Project. The program, chaired by Nathalie, was created out of the Lemieuxs’ experience with their premature son, Austin. The family spent 71 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which was difficult on their two young daughters. The couple realized that many medical centers lack space for young children, whether patients or relatives of patients, to play. The Mario Lemieux Foundation decided to create Austin’s Playroom Project to fund playrooms in medical facilities across Western Pennsylvania. They seek to improve the quality of a child’s hospital experience by providing safe, calming, and comfortable areas to relax and have fun.
All proceeds from the annual luncheon are reserved for a specific playroom in a predetermined hospital. This year's recipient is Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh North – Same Day Surgical Services Center.
What makes this strategy so effective is that there’s a tangible outcome every event. Each year, the community knows that money will go towards one specific playroom that will positively impact children and be around for the long haul. Since the event’s inception in 2000, “Over $1 million has been raised for the creation of playrooms for children and families in medical facilities,” and 33 playrooms have been created to help children and families, according to the foundation’s website. This year, the event was on Thursday, May 18, and it was one of their most successful events to date, bringing in over $150,000.
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