In 2016-2017, our group has raised almost $700,000 toward this goal.  We were personally involved in several fundraising activities related to raising community awareness, putting on a gala event, a fashion show/luncheon, and other activities.  Added to other recent efforts in the community, we are making great strides toward enabling the children of Southwest Florida to receive the proper mental health diagnosis, the right treatment, and the best community resources to live successful and productive lives.

While providing support for the Music Therapy Program and the new Behavioral Health Initiative, we are active in support of the Hospital and the capital campaign as well.  Marty modeled in the “Stars under the Stars” fashion show and organized the “Swing for the Cure” golf tournament for which the Foundation made a matching contribution. 

John and Marty are both members of the Impact Initiative of Southwest Florida, which is responsible for creating a broad community awareness of the services offered by Lee Memorial Health System, including but not limited to The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

If you are interested in supporting Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, we hope that you will join Close Friend Foundation's efforts by

To learn more about the Children’s Hospital please visit its website.

golisano children's hospital

of Southwest Florida

The Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida provides the highest level of family-centered life saving treatment and care 365 days a year to more than 5,000 children and grandchildren annually.

Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida - Located within the Health Park Medical Center, the Golisano Children's Hospital is the only accredited children’s hospital in Southwest Florida and is home to the region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care unit.  The hospital provides vital health care for children from the ages of infancy through age 18.  The photograph left is of the new hospital facility, currently under construction.

If you are interested in supporting Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida, we hope that you will join Close Friend Foundation's efforts by donating. To learn more about the Children’s Hospital please visit its website.

children's behavioral health

In 2016, Marty and John began to work with a few couples to create a new Behavioral Health Initiative at the Hospital.  The effort acknowledged and brought to discussion the mental health issues faced by thousands of children in Southwest Florida and led to the initiative to provide financial support to assist with their challenges. Branded as "Kids Minds Matter", this effort culminated in early 2017 with a gala event titled "The Secret Garden", which raised nearly $700,000.

Through our involvement with the music therapy program at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, we learned that in our region, there is a significant lack of resources for children in need of mental health care. In addition, reimbursement rates for behavioral and mental health treatment make it difficult for healthcare providers to meet the current and growing demands for services.  More than two-thirds of the pediatric patient population in Southwest Florida is Medicaid and low income.  The statistics are staggering:

  • An estimated 46,000 children in Southwest Florida currently have or have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder. Providing services and financial support to these children and families has not been a top priority for the State of Florida nor the Southwest Florida Region.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that approximately 13% of children ages 8 to 15 had a diagnosable mental disorder within the previous year.
  • The most common disorder among children is attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which affects 8.5% of the population.
  • Mood disorders represent 3.7%, and major depressive disorder represents 2.7% of children with mental disorders.
  • One in 66 children are estimated to have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • Suicide is the #2 cause of death in children ages 10-17.
  • Sadly, 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.
  • More than 2/3 of the pediatric patient populations in Southwest Florida is on Medicaid and is in a low income family.
  • On average, a child will need 16 sessions of therapy and counseling.  That is approximately $2,500 to treat one child. 

While these statistics are shocking, there are real-life, tragic stories behind the numbers involving the children and their families who struggle with mental and behavioral health conditions. 

We got involved, because we know through our own life experiences, that if a child’s mental/behavioral issues are recognized and properly treated at an early stage, they have a good chance of managing and/or overcoming their symptoms and developing into a healthy, productive adult.

To this end, in 2016, we joined a group of other like-minded people to help the Pediatric Behavioral Health Clinic of Golisano Children’s Hospital to build a foundation for excellence in care for the mental health needs for the children and families of our area.

Our goal is to allow patients to access a multi-layered approach through individual group and family therapies, coordination with schools and their primary care doctors to promote the patient’s best and optimal functioning now and for their lifetime.  As our patient population grows, we anticipate the addition of providers and services dedicated to the advancement of mental health care in our community.

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After several years supporting various events for the new hospital capital campaign, the Foundation took its support to a much higher level in 2013 by committing to provide funding over a four-year period in support of the Music Therapy Program. This was an important step for the Foundation as well as the Program because music therapy is otherwise, unfunded. It is not supported by the Hospital's budget nor covered by any insurance programs.

They observed the affects on the children of their singing and instrumentation and learned about the role of music therapy for children who are also patients. Pain management, relaxation, socialization, education, and distraction are among the benefits in addition to the creative joy of making music, resulting in shorter hospital stays and reduced medication

In 2014, the Foundation joined with another foundation to sponsor a season-long advertisement in the Artis-Naples brochure to raise awareness of music therapy and attract music lovers to support the program. In 2015, the Foundation was a joint sponsor of  the music entertainment at the Hospital’s “Wild about Kids” function, a safari themed evening of entertainment which raised approximately $300,000.