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Vol. LVII, No. 7
April 8, 2005

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NIH Breaks Giving Record
Combined Federal Campaign Raises $1.9 Million

The weather outside was frightful — the beginning of a predicted 6 inches of snow created a white blur outside the windows of Wilson Hall on the final day of February. But inside, it might have been the Fourth of July.

The CFC awards ceremony put on by NIDDK, the lead institute for the 2004 campaign, was full of warm cheer and festooned with bouquets of red, white and blue balloons and red and blue starburst centerpieces on round tables. Scattered stars sparkled on spanking white tablecloths. NIH staff who contributed to this year's record-breaking helping hand to the needy watched a video scrapbook of campaign events before taking their seats at 10 a.m. They were invited to hear congratulations from Dr. Allen Spiegel, NIDDK director and vice-chair of the NIH campaign, NIH director and CFC chair Dr. Elias Zerhouni and HRSA administrator Dr. Betty Duke, vice-chair of the HHS-wide campaign.

Dr. Allen Spiegel (l), Barbara Merchant (second from l), and Dr. Elias Zerhouni were happy to receive a Million Dollar Circle award from HHS’s CFC vice-chair Dr. Betty Duke of HRSA.

Spiegel described invitees as "a small army" whose collective power provided hope for the future to many disadvantaged members of the surrounding community. "You helped NIH to a banner year," he said.

The 2004 campaign was one for the record books. Not only did NIH set a new record, but also every IC raised more than 100 percent of its goal. For the first time, all NCI divisions went over 100 percent. NIH reached 100 percent of its goal in the ninth week of the campaign — another first — and went on to raise $500,000 more.

"Our goal was $1.46 million, and you raised $1.9 million," Zerhouni reported. "It's the only budget goal we've exceeded," he added, provoking a laugh from the crowd. "There is no better statement about the nature and culture of an institution than its generosity. I can only feel warm-hearted about being among such caring people."

NIH CFC Manager Barbara Merchant (r) called assistant Debi Anderson “a Wonder Woman” for her help during the campaign. Now Anderson has the outfit to prove it. Burton Goldstein and M.G. thank CFC awardees for support of National Capital Therapy Dogs and 3,199 other charities.

He described an experience that made the CFC "very personal" for him. On a snowy night in Bethesda, the NIH director and a friend came upon a homeless man shivering at the edge of a parking lot. Attendants refused him shelter in their booth, and the man had nowhere to go. After speaking with him, Zerhouni called for help. A car arrived to pick the man up, and one of the CFC charities found him shelter from the storm through the weekend. "We are surrounded by people who want our help, who need our help," Zerhouni said. "Because of the CFC, there was help for him."

NIDDK communications director and ceremony emcee Betsy Singer confessed one failure in the course of the campaign. In spite of her best efforts, she had been unable to convince Spiegel and Zerhouni to don tights and capes to promote the Super Hero campaign theme.

Betsy Singer (r) accepts a trophy for “superlative” campaign coverage from Dr. Betty Duke on behalf of NIDDK.  

"You are the ones who should be wearing the Super Hero outfits," Zerhouni told the crowd. In introducing HRSA's Duke, Zerhouni noted that if the task of NIH was to create new knowledge, Duke's agency delivered that knowledge to 12.5 million people across the U.S. through its grants and programs. When Duke in turn praised NIH for producing 44 percent of the department's $4 million goal, a balloon behind her popped, as if on cue. The crowd loved it, and Duke promised to pay off her "sound man" in the morning. She then presented a Million Dollar Circle award to NIH's CFC leaders, and awarded NIDDK a trophy for superlative campaign coverage.

Burton Goldstein of National Capital Therapy Dogs took the floor next with his canine partner, M.G., a 6-year-old Shih Tzu, speaking on behalf of the CFC's 3,200 charities. The veteran volunteer moved the audience with the story of a Clinical Center patient who first allowed M.G. to sit on her lap and then slowly began to hug the dog warmly. After some prompting from Goldstein and a bit of struggling with her memory, she told him the names of four dogs she had at home. He later learned that these were the first words the catatonic woman had spoken since entering the CC some months before. "This is the kind of thing these dogs can do," he explained, "and we live off your contributions."

Dr. Griffin Rodgers, deputy director of NIDDK, and Barbara Merchant, executive officer and coordinator of the 2004 campaign, then recognized ICs whose generosity contributed significantly to NIH's record-breaking total. Beginning with the President's Award, which went to those who achieved at least 75 percent participation or a per capita gift of $275, the presenters gave out Chairman's Awards, Honor Awards and Merit Awards to recognize ICs achieving significant participation or per capita contributions.

Finally, Merchant thanked her fellow executive officers for their energy and enthusiasm. She ended by honoring Randy Schools, president of the Recreation and Welfare Association, as well as campaign facilitator Kristin Oliver and the NIDDK team who managed hundreds of details from her office. She had special praise for her assistant, Debi Anderson — a "real Wonder Woman" — to whom she gave a costume to match the sentiment, "complete with boot covers and headband." It remains to be seen if the costume will surface at the 2005 CFC Halloween party.

The snow fell faster as the party wound down, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the fundraisers. They swear they're primed for another go at record-breaking in 2005. A slide show of the ceremony is available at

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