If you’re in the PR business for a long time, and if you are very lucky, a client will come along with an amazing opportunity. Such was the case when Akron Children’s Hospital asked AKHIA to help celebrate their amazing 125-year anniversary in our community. The celebration had to be as extraordinary as the hospital itself, which, over its history, has made three promises to the community: Never turn away a child, no matter their ability to pay; treat each child as your own; and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.
Recognizing that “one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation” was located here in Akron, Ohio, we had our theme: In your backyard, for 125 years. To convey that theme, we embarked on one of the most unique programs I’ve ever managed—the creation of 25 larger-than-life flower sculptures. The pieces of art, each individually commissioned and crafted by artist Stephen Canneto, were modeled after the “backyard flowers” found throughout our region. The finished flower sculptures were then gifted to iconic organizations in and around Greater Akron. These organizations were chosen based on three requirements: They were family friendly, in good standing with the community, and shared the hospital’s standards for integrity. Today, the sculptures are blooming around the city at places like the Akron Zoo, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, John S. Knight Center, the Akron-Summit County Library, Canal Park (home to the Cleveland Indians’ Double-A team, the Akron RubberDucks), and many more.
The amazing sculptures, which include violets, sunflowers, lilies, trillium, coneflowers and asters—just to name a few—have been beautifully crafted out of metal and stainless steel to withstand the region’s climate extremes. Dramatic details and vibrant colors add realism and a “WOW!” factor.
Over the past 125 years, Akron Children’s Hospital has built on its promises and become the largest pediatric healthcare system in Northeast Ohio, with two hospitals, 22 pediatrician offices and about 70 specialty locations across the region. The hospital provides care for 800,000 patients and families each year. It’s also ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
When I drive through parts of Greater Akron, I’m continually awed by the beauty—and the stature—of the sculptures, as well as what they represent: 125 years of caring for children.
It’s a proud moment for my agency.