The Children’s Miracle Network will host a root beer float fundraiser on Saturday at the Residence Inn in Gainesville to support UF Shands Children’s Hospital.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., participants can show up and buy tickets in the hotel lobby at 3275 SW 40th Blvd. The tickets then serve as currency to buy root beer floats, hot dogs, enter raffles, play games, do photo booths and more.
Raffles will include hotel stays across the country, restaurant gift cards, a skydiving package, UF game tickets and tickets to the 2023 Gulf Coast Jam.
The Children’s Miracle Network hosts Root Beer Float events across the United States, but Karina Hamilton, general manager at Residence Inn, said this will be the first time in Gainesville. She added that partners from Ocala will also drive up to attend.
Marriott Hotels, the corporate owner of Residence Inn, has partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network since 1983, and the Root Beer Float fundraisers hail back to the company’s start.
J. Willard Marriott opened an A&W Root Beer stand on June 9, 1927. Since then, the family business has grown into one of the world’s largest hotel chains.
All proceeds will help UF Shands Children’s Hospital continue its lifesaving work for children like Bella Neira. The Neira family joined Larry Wilson, DJ for Gainesville’s Classic Hits 100.9, to talk about their story.
Twins Bella and Jessy were born three months early. Besides the complications of a premature birth, their mother, Krystina, said doctors could tell Bella had additional issues.
Bella would need a heart and lung transplant, but doctors only gave her a seven-month life expectancy. The Neira family transitioned from South Florida to UF Shands in Gainesville.
At 14 months, before she had ever lived at home, Bella received the necessary surgery. Krystina said the surgeon at UF admitted he wasn’t sure how the team kept Bella alive long enough to have the surgery.
“I was just blown away, it was a real miracle,” Krystina said.
Watch the full story here.