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Arkansas Children’s Northwest has received a $25 million donation from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, the largest gift ever received by the hospital or given by the foundation, the hospital announced earlier this month.

Half of the gift will go toward the Springdale hospital’s previously announced expansion, which will focus on boosting ear, nose and throat services, orthopedics, gastroenterology and urology, according to a news release from Arkansas Children’s. The other half will create an endowment to help recruit the most highly qualified specialists, purchase state-of-the-art equipment and meet other needs.

“Pat Walker’s love of children and northwest Arkansas shines across this region, and Arkansas Children’s is deeply grateful to have a role in continuing her unwavering legacy in the years ahead,” said Marcy Doderer, president and CEO of Arkansas Children’s. “Her spirit of generosity and compassion will ensure thousands more Arkansas children have access to exceptional care that allows them to reach their fullest potential.”

Arkansas Children’s Northwest, the system’s first hospital outside of Little Rock, opened in early 2018 after receiving $80 million in support from the region’s largest employers and other donors. The need for pediatric care has only grown since, the health system said, pointing to a record 169,000 patients statewide in 2022.

The gift comes amid a yearslong series of expansions and other investments in Northwest Arkansas’ health systems to meet the needs of a booming population close to home. The Northwest Arkansas Council created its health care transformation division in 2021 to help coordinate these efforts and make the region into a health care destination, rather than one whose residents must go elsewhere for specialty services.

The Walker Foundation’s donation was made in the same spirit, Mandy Macke, charity executive director, told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

“We want to attract specialists from Boston and Philadelphia and, with them, other business from there by being able to say they can get first-class health care for their kids here,” she said.

Pat Walker, who died in 2016 13 years after her husband, was passionate about helping children, Macke added.

“Pat played such an integral role in making sure the children of Arkansas have every advantage they can have,” said Macke. “That includes quality health care close to home. Our involvement in Arkansas Children’s Northwest was a part of Pat’s plan. This next step of where we’re going with Arkansas Children’s Northwest is part of our tribute.”

Learn more at Arkansas Children’s.

Special thanks to our major investors for their support of the Northwest Arkansas Council and our work in the region: