In our monthly Corporate Partner Spotlight, we share interviews with corporate leaders about what inspires them to serve as advocates and ambassadors within their company and across the community for our hospital. This month, we spoke with John Martinez, Vice President and General Counsel of GE Aviation.
John’s relationship with Children’s National began 16 years ago when his son was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. To show their gratitude, John and his wife added a fundraising element to their annual Christmas party, asking guests to bring toys for kids undergoing treatment. Years later, they’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Children’s National through their personal family fundraisers and John’s work on the Corporate Advisory Council and serving as the Chair of the White Hat Gala.
John, why do you support Children’s National?
Our son Jack was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at 2 years old. As you might guess, my wife and I were incredibly anxious and concerned, as the process took many months and visits to more than 40 specialists before we could secure his diagnosis. Even at 2 years old, we believe Jack was able to sense our anxiety, and he was certainly confused by the endless probing and poking. We were extremely grateful, however, because every care provider helped him feel as comfortable as possible. Jack often received toys, games or stuffed animals from Dr. Bear’s Closet at his appointments. These made his treatment bearable, and, truth be told, even pleasant at times.
Throughout this entire ordeal, we always felt a sense of calm and peace at Children’s National. It was then that my wife and I committed ourselves to doing whatever we could to support the hospital and have done so over the past 16 years.
Children’s National launched its follow the leader campaign — what role can business leaders play in the success of this campaign and the hospital?
The Corporate Advisory Council’s value is in its business perspective. The Children’s National Hospital Foundation often knows what it needs. Our group can determine how those needs will resonate with the corporate community.
Part of businesses being embedded in the community is serving their employees in the community. Almost everyone the region knows someone treated at Children’s National. You hope you never need Children’s National – but if you do, it’s here in your backyard. Businesses that are committed to corporate social responsibility should consider supporting Children’s National.
Can you tell us about the White Hat Gala?
The White Hat Gala is the cybersecurity community’s signature biennial fundraising event to support Children’s National. This year, it’s April 28 at the International Spy Museum. Since its inception, the gala has raised more than $2 million for programs that benefit patients at Children’s National. This year, our fundraising goal is $500,000. We’ve just crossed that threshold with a couple of weeks left before the event… so now we are striving for even more! We’re expecting more than 325 guests to join us for dinner, networking and museum exhibits. Individual tickets and sponsorships are still available at childrensnational.org/whitehat-gala.
What’s the most rewarding part of working with Children’s National?
I could give you a million examples, but I’m most proud seeing my son and our daughter commit their free time and career paths to service. Our family participates in the Race for Every Child each year. Jack started a Dance Marathon at his high school, and they raised $15,000 last year. He and his peers are excited for their second annual event this spring. He’ll go off to college next year and wants to study government or law. Jack sees both as opportunities to serve his community. Julia is inspired by her brother’s care at Children’s National and is completely focused on becoming a doctor one day.