Right From the Start

Members from the Kiwanis clubs present Rady Children's with a donation of trauma dolls.

The story of the Kiwanis and Rady Children’s dates back more than eight decades. In 1924, only four years after Kiwanis International was established, Kiwanis club members in San Diego spearheaded a campaign to raise funds to construct a new facility for The Helping Hand Home for Children. They raised $65,000 for the facility that was built at 850 South 36th Street. In 1932, it became known as Children’s Convalescent Home (later Hospital). Rady Children’s first 12 patients were transported from 850 South 36th Street to the new Kearny Mesa facility in a caravan of station wagons in August 1954.

Kiwanis was one of the three founding sponsors of Rady Children’s and, since it opened in 1954, Kiwanis has been one of its most active supporters. Each of the Kiwanis clubs of San Diego and Imperial Counties conducts its own event to benefit the Hospital. Since 1982, the 62 Kiwanis clubs that make up “Division 100” have worked together on the Miracle Mile of Quarters project, a celebration of their fundraising efforts, and to date have raised more than $2.3 Million for the Hospital.

Kiwanis clubs also provide hundreds of volunteers to work the phones and answer questions during Rady Children’s Radiothons and call-a-thons.

Recognition of the Kiwanis’ generosity to Rady Children’s is reflected in the Kiwanis Conference Room at the Medical Office Building at the Hospital and what is known as the Kiwanis Courtyard, a grassy area just outside the Conference Room. There, visitors find benches dedicated to Kiwanians like Curly Collier, whose name is widely known for his tireless service to Rady Children’s. 

The Kiwanis are still helping Rady Children’s and the kids in San Diego and Imperial Counties. In the words of Dave Schmitt, a Vista Kiwanis Club member, “The smiles on the kids’ faces make it all worthwhile.”