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SAN ANTONIO, Texas – To say it has been a good year for Southwest Business Corporation Co-Founder/Chairman Charlie Amato is an understatement. Not only has he been elected National Chair for the Children’s Miracle Network, but as an investor in the National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs he also got to see his team take the title of NBA Champions. “I go to every game in town and we were lucky to win it here,” said Amato. “It was a phenomenal evening.” Singer Marie Osmond and actor John Schneider founded CMN in 1983 as an international non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of children’s hospitals. Originating from a small studio in Provo, Utah, CMN held its first fund-raising effort – a television special broadcast by 30 television stations. During that first year, CMN and 22 hospitals in the United States raised $4.7 million. The CMN promise is to apply 100% of donations in the area in which they are raised and put the children first. Amato says he first got involved with CMN when his son Marcus suffered a hemotoma at age seven and almost died. “We rushed him to a local children’s hospital and they took great care of him,” said Amato. “My philosophy is to always give back to the communities you serve, so after that I called on the hospital to see if we could find new ways to help them raise money so they could continue the good work they were doing.” At the time Amato and Gary Dudley, friends since sixth grade had already established SWBC which marketed to credit unions. Amato says credit unions had always treated them with respect and as members of the family. Since he had this relationship with the credit unions in town he started to rally credit unions to support and raise money for CMN. According to Amato all the credit unions started raising funds on an individual basis, a year later the chapter endorsed it then the Texas Credit Union League. During that same time a similar grassroots movement headed by First Technology Credit Union President Tom Sargent was taking place in Oregon and SW Washington, then spread to Utah. It was to be the beginning of what is now known as Credit Unions for Kids. “CMN saw positive results so they hired a full time person to call on credit union leagues and they started attending credit union conferences,” said Amato. In the fall of 1997, the National Credit Union Foundation signed a partnership agreement with CMN to endorse and support Credit Unions for Kids as part of the NCUF’s program. According to the NCUF, CUs for Kids exemplifies the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” and CMN shares the same philosophy and commitment to provide charity care for those who are unable to pay. CUNA is also now charged with the goal of providing national movement recognition for Credit Unions for Kids and encouraging other credit unions and leagues to join in the program. “The best part of being named National CMN chair is that I have an opportunity to work with so many quality people on the board and I am awed by the educational background and fundraising skills of all of them,” said Amato. “This is the most outstanding board I’ve been involved in and I learn so much from the rest of the board.” The 19 board members are a mixed bag of sponsors such as Disney, founders Marie Osmond and John Schneider, and many children’s hospital chairs and CEOs including Alabama Children’s Hospital CEO Jim Dearth. The board meets at least once a quarter in different parts of the country and every other year in Canada for Canadian CMN hospitals. As National CMN Chair Amato will serve a two-year term and his responsibilities range from overseeing and setting policy to coming up with new concepts and better ways to raise funds. In 2002 credit unions as a whole raised in excess of $6 million and this year they seem well on their way of exceeding that with Security Service CU alone raising $105,000 says Amato. As a long term community service program, Credit Unions for Kids fundraising program works on several levels-credit union, chapter, and league. Individual credit union CEOs are encouraged to designate an internal “champion” to lead and develop fun, results driven fundraisers. Credit unions are then encouraged to partner with other credit unions to conduct chapter-wide events such as golf, softball and bowling tournaments. Lastly, the League makes a commitment to support the program through facilitating campaign organization and communicating the program to member credit unions and other constituencies. According to CMN, today the organization produces the largest television fundraiser in the world. From 1987 to 1995, the annual 21-hour international television special originated live from Anaheim, California’s Disneyland. In 1996,CMN moved the broadcast to Orlando, Florida-based Walt Disney World and changed it to a more sports based format called CMN Champions. The CMN Celebration now airs over a network of some 200 television stations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. CMN annually benefits over 170 hospitals, 17 million children suffering from every affliction and in 20 years CMN has raised more than $2.5 billion in charitable care. [email protected]

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