Education

Anheuser-Busch fulfills commitment to University of Iowa Children's Hospital

Donation of almost $1M wraps impromptu Carson King campaign

Carson King speaks in November at Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids about the power of social media and his #x201c;acci
Carson King speaks in November at Taft Middle School in Cedar Rapids about the power of social media and his “accidental” fundraiser for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Anheuser Busch has made good on its promise to match the money King raised, donating almost a million dollars to the UI Center for Advancement. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Fulfilling its very public promise from September to match any donations unassuming fundraiser Carson King generated for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Anheuser-Busch on March 6 gave $920,112 to the campus’ philanthropic arm.

That is the exact total amassed in King’s Venmo account between Sept. 14 — when he made his impromptu appeal — and Sept. 30, when he ended the far-reaching campaign that in total generated more than $3 million.

Both Busch and Venmo early in the campaign vowed to match King’s fundraising total through the end of the month — although the total was under $10,000 when they agreed to make the match.

Venmo fulfilled its promise to give the nearly $1 million in October, according to the UI Center for Advancement. The Gazette on Feb. 19 reported Busch had not yet fulfilled its commitment nearly five months after the fundraiser ended.

Center spokeswoman Dana Larson said that’s typical for large gifts.

“Anyone who generously gives a gift to the university can specify how and when it will be given,” she said. “In particular, larger gifts are often given over time.”

Two weeks after The Gazette’s February report, Busch gave the $920,111, according to Larson, wrapping an expansive and nationwide campaign that started when King held up a sign requesting beer money during ESPN’s live coverage of the annual Iowa-Iowa State football game Sept. 14.

King — a 24-year-old former ISU student living in Altoona — told The Gazette he was surprised when viewers actually responded to his “Busch Light supply needs replenished” sign with donations, prompting him to rethink his use of the money and announce via social media a recalibrated commitment to give it to the Children’s Hospital.

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That big-hearted redirection captured national and even international attention, with more than 35,000 donors from all 50 states and Puerto Rico making small and large gifts to the King campaign.

The campaign experienced a hiccup midcourse when King proactively issued a statement apologizing for old racist social media posts after a reporter with the Des Moines Register asked him about them. Busch, which had planned to produce special edition Carson King cans of Busch Light, announced it was cutting ties with the Iowan — although it vowed to make good on its commitment.

To date, the UI Center for Advancement has received about $3 million in donations related to the King campaign.

“We are very thankful to Anheuser Busch for their gift, which has been received,” Larson said.

King worked with hospital officials to identify ways the money would benefit Children’s Hospital patients and families.

Examples include:

• Easing financial pressure on families with a hospitalized child — covering costs for things like lodging, food, gas, pharmacy copays and other expenses.

• Supporting child life services that improve the hospital experience for patients and siblings through things like play.

• Providing the latest technology, including sophisticated monitoring.

• Enhancing neonatal and pediatric transport services.

• Affording professional development and education opportunities for nurses and providers.

• Covering equipment needs ranging from advanced imaging units to bed warmers.

King in February announced he’s started his own Carson King Foundation to continue helping kids and their families, while also uniting communities.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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