Eli and Abby Manning have put their money where their hearts are with a seven-figure gift to Mississippi’s children.

The Mannings, parents of three young daughters, have made a personal pledge of $1 million to the Children’s of Mississippi $100 million capital campaign. The campaign aims to fund an expansion and update of the neonatal intensive care unit at Batson Children’s Hospital, add more pediatric ICU rooms and surgical suites, create an imaging department just for children and expand the outpatient clinic so that care can be centralized and more convenient for families.

Batson is the only medical facility in the state devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of sick and injured children and adolescents.

The Mannings’ support of the hospital is nothing new. Eli Manning, the New York Giants quarterback and two-time Super Bowl winner, raised more than $2.5 million in partnership with Friends of Children’s Hospital to open the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital in 2009.

“Abby and I are the parents of three precious daughters so we know that the health of your children means everything, “ Eli Manning said in a press release. “We want every family to have the best quality care for their children close to home. That’s why we opened the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital, and that’s why we made this commitment to the future of pediatric care at UMMC.”

Archie Manning Thursday morning remembered precisely the time when his youngest son decided that Batson would be the focus of his philanthropy.

“Eli had just gotten out of Ole Miss and signed his NFL contract and we were talking and he told me he wanted to do something for the people of Mississippi who had been so good to him at Ole Miss,” Archie Manning said by phone from his home in New Orleans. “I think it was that same afternoon he went on a visit to Batson. He called me and said, ‘Dad, this is it. This is what I want to do.’”

Archie Manning continued, “Everybody should visit a children’s hospital, because anybody who visits would do the same thing Eli and Abby are doing if they could. The first thing you want to do when you visit one is go home and hug your own children or grandchildren.”

Batson averages 9,000 admissions a year and nearly 80,000 children are treated in its clinics and emergency room annually. Patients come from all of Mississippi’s 82 counties to receive comprehensive medical care for everything from common childhood illnesses to serious trauma and life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Eli Manning was named one of the “Top 20 Philanthropists under 40” by The New York Observer and was a finalist for the 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. His devotion to Batson Children’s Hospital and philanthropic efforts can be seen in this article he wrote for The Players’ Tribune, titled “The Autograph,” which tells of his visit with a young man fighting cancer at Batson Children’s Hospital.

The Mannings, who will be lending their names and faces to publicity for the campaign, are honorary chairs and will serve on the campaign fundraising committee.

“I just remember how touched Eli and Abby were — we all were, really — when they began to get letters from not only parents and grandparents of Batson patients,” Archie Manning said. “Not only that. They heard from doctors who talked about how much the working conditions had improved because of the new clinics.”


From seven months ago, a visit to the neonatal unit of Batson Children’s Hospital.


Donations may be sent to Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216

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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.