Jewel Charity Turns 60

It's a poetic coincidence the organizers plan to reach $60 millions in donations for uncompensated care at Fort Worth's Cook Children's Medical Center.

“Jewel Charity’s support of uncompensated care at Cook Children’s ensures that every child who needs our care receives it and that no child is turned away based on their family’s ability to pay. This truly is an amazing gift that they give year after year,” said Grant Harris, Cook Children’s Health Foundation vice president, in a prepared statement.

It started 60 years ago when volunteers Nenetta Burton Carter and Billie Bransford volunteered in the kitchen at then Fort Worth Children’s Hospital. Their hearts broke for the countless children turned away for medical care simply because they couldn’t afford it. Before the Congress enacted the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act in 1986 (EMTALA), hospitals didn’t absorb the cost of those who couldn’t pay their hospital bills. Instead, sick children were sent home and their fate undetermined.
Carter and Bransford started the Jewel Charity in 1953 to answer this problem.

Fort Worth’s first Jewel Charity Ball was in 1954 at the historic Hotel Texas. That first year, the prominent jeweler House of Harry Winston came from New York City. He brought the famous Hope diamond as well as his own jewels to sell to Fort Worth’s elite. Organizers pinched pennies, serving popcorn and a midnight breakfast to ensure the most money possible went to the children. They raised $9,300 for the children’s hospital—a small fortune in those days.

Fast forward to the present, the traditions hold fast. Members like this year’s Diamond Jubilee president Leslie Johnson are still proud to support this cause. “I always walk away from the hospital amazed…[and] I love hearing and seeing the stories of children who are helped there,” Johnson said. 

Donations from last year’s Jewel Charity helped fund the new MIGB (metaiodobenzylguanidine) facility at the hematology/oncology department. This is the only MIGB facility in the Southwest. The experimental radioactive isotope seeks out neuroblastoma tumors, giving them more radiation than other parts of the body.