This is the story of a small specialty hospital for children that grew and grew to become a nationally ranked pediatric hospital and the region’s only healthcare system exclusively for children.
Once Upon A Time
Our story begins on Christmas Eve in 1928, when the manager of the Sheridan Square Theater in Pittsburgh found an abandoned baby girl in his theater. A note signed Heartbroken Mother pleaded: "Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer care for her. I have eight others. My husband is out of work. She was born on Thanksgiving Day. I have always heard of the goodness of show business and I pray you will look after my little girl." Variety Club, Tent #1, an 11-member club composed of show business people, was meeting that night. The group agreed to care for the infant and because of Catherine, unfortunate and needy children became the special interest of show business professionals.
In the 1940s, Miami Tent #33 of Variety Clubs International was founded. Its goal was to help indigent children. Variety Club soon joined forces with a new hospital that was being built outside Coral Gables and in need of financial assistance. Thanks to the founding vision of Dr. Arthur H. Weiland, Variety Children’s Hospital opened its doors on March 20, 1950, just as the polio epidemic was encompassing the United States. Variety Children’s Hospital was soon deemed the southern center for children suffering from polio. Throughout the years, the hospital continued to grow and offer new services to meet the needs of the community.
The Foundation For Growth
When Miami community leader Ambassador David M. Walters lost his precious granddaughter to leukemia, he vowed that no child would ever need to leave South Florida to receive the highest caliber of medical care. In 1982, Ambassador Walters activated Nicklaus Children's Health Foundation to meet that pledge, making possible the expansion of many programs needed to meet the needs of the children of South Florida. In 1983, the hospital was renamed Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and began its steady march to international prominence.
A Dazzling New Campus
Starting in 2001, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital began transforming the campus, creating a care setting to match the caliber of its medical programs. The newly rebuilt main campus delighted children and families alike with its colorful forms and family friendly interiors. Features included the Michael Fux Family Center, a facility that includes a movie theater, computer-equipped family and children’s libraries, kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as a small fitness gym for families.
Nicklaus Children’s Today
Our flagship hospital turned 65 years young in 2015. Over the decades, the hospital has touched – and often transformed – the lives of countless children and families and supported them throughout their healthcare journey. As we celebrated this milestone birthday, we also embraced a new name and logo. We are now Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, in recognition of a generous pledge from the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation.
Our name may have changed over the years, but our legacy lives on, enriched all the more by our association with the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. No children’s hospital in the region has a longer commitment or more experience in helping children in need. Virtually everyone in South Florida has been impacted, or knows someone whose life was touched, by Nicklaus Children’s Health System.