Delta Dental Holiday Campaign Highlights Critical Role of Child Life Programs at Tennessee Children’s Hospitals

Campaign features artwork by Sumner County brothers and a $140,000 pledge to children’s hospitals


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (December 1, 2021) – Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) today launched its annual holiday card campaign in support of children’s hospitals, highlighting the vital role that Child Life programs play in supporting children and their families through medical experiences. Delta Dental is committing a collective $140,000 in donations to children’s hospitals across the state through the campaign; each of the seven children’s hospitals will receive at least a $10,000 donation, and the remaining $70,000 will be awarded based on public input by December 26.

This year’s campaign features two holiday cards, drawn by brothers Chase and Landon Graham. The Grahams, who live in Sumner County, are self-described “frequent fliers” at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt where Chase, 12, receives continual care for immunodeficiency, a seizure disorder, and several other health care needs.

“It's an intimidating environment even for adults, so you can imagine for kids it can be really scary to hear all of the beeping to see all of the tubes to hear a lot of words you don’t understand,” said Katie Beard, a Certified Child Life Specialist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

The Child Life Services program at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital has become a lifeline for the entire Graham family. Through play and education, Certified Child Life Specialists provide friendly, age-appropriate support to children with questions or concerns about an upcoming procedure, test, or appointment. They can also support parents seeking guidance for how to talk to their child about their health, or siblings with worries of their own.

Landon, 16, has had a front row seat to his brother’s hospital visits for years. “When [Chase] got his g-tube, [Child Life] took me and they took the doll and would show on the doll saying this is what’s going to happen, what it’s going to look like and this is how you’ll be involved in it if something ever happens,” he said. “I understood it better and I didn’t really freak out.”

“They break it down so kids can actually understand what’s going to happen,” Chase added.

The boys’ mother, Tonya Graham, has seen first-hand just how much of a difference the program has made. “Child Life is so much more than just dropping some playdough off in a kid's room,” she said. “I’m almost teary-eyed thinking about what it would be like without it, it would be so much harder and so much more stress, so many more tears.”

Learn more about the Graham’s experience at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital here.

The 2020 Delta Dental holiday card campaign generated the highest level of public input to date, about 12x the engagement over the previous year. Ayers Children’s Medical Center in Jackson received the most selections last year, about 30%, and a gift of $31,500 from Delta Dental as a result.

Select a children’s hospital to receive additional funding from Delta Dental here by December 26.

“We are so grateful to the Grahams for sharing their story and terrific artwork this holiday season so that more families can benefit from the type of support they have received at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. Phil Wenk, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee. “Having a child in the hospital impacts the entire family, but programs like Child Life do so much to support everyone – parents, siblings, and the young patient – both physically and emotionally, making a tough situation just a little bit easier to navigate.”

The annual holiday card campaign is just one aspect of Delta Dental’s longstanding support for Tennessee children’s hospitals. Delta Dental and its Smile180 Foundation have contributed more than $3 million to the state’s children’s hospitals since 2014 and will contribute more than $300,000 this year.

To learn more about Delta Dental’s philanthropic work across Tennessee, visit the Smile180 Foundation website.


Delta Dental of Tennessee
Delta Dental of Tennessee is the state’s largest independent dental benefits carrier with more than 1.4 million lives covered. As part of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Delta Dental of Tennessee members have access to the largest dental network in the nation with more than 154,000 providers serving more than 437,000 locations. With the simple mission of ensuring healthy smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works hard to help members of the communities it serves. Along with its corporate foundation, Smile180, Delta Dental of Tennessee donated more than $4.8 million in funding and in-kind services to over 140 organizations in 2020.