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2019 Breakfast for Children’s Champions


Become a Sponsor of our Breakfast Today!

Download Sponsorship and Pledge Forms here.
To make an individual donation to the Breakfast, click here.

At Smart Start of New Hanover County, it is an honor for us to be able to celebrate and encourage action in our community that supports young children, their families, and high quality early care and education. Each year we host the annual Breakfast for Children’s Champions as an opportunity to recognize New Hanover County citizens, nominated by their peers, for their outstanding efforts on behalf of young children. Particularly in the wake of Hurricane Florence and its devastating effects to our community, if a Children’s Champion comes to mind, please be sure to nominate them. This year’s Champions will be announced and all nominees will be honored at our 18th Annual Breakfast for Children’s Champions on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at the Hotel Ballast Wilmington (Formerly Hilton Riverside).

Your sponsorship contribution to Smart Start of New Hanover County helps develop, sustain, and enhance health, family support, and early education services for all children ages birth to five in New Hanover County. Our services touch lives of more than 7,000 children each year!

Call (910) 815-3731 for more information.


2018 Breakfast raised over $83,000!

We thank PNC Bank for their Chair Sponsorship, giving our children and this Breakfast a HUGE boost!


Meet the 2018 Children’s Champions

Congratulations! Dr. Rick Lawson was named as the 2018 Children’s Champion and John Gizdic earned the Starfish Public Advocacy Award. This year’s Breakfast was held at Hotel Ballast Wilmington (formerly Hilton Riverside) on Tuesday, April 3rd.  This  record amount raised in sponsorships, gifts and pledges supports Smart Start of New Hanover County’s work to increase the capacity of the adults who work with young children in their first 2000 days of life – from parents to pediatricians and social workers to early educators.


Nominees (from left to right) John Gizdic, Melinda Crouch, Maggie Mensch, Sarah Barnett, Lowell Higgins, Qualamoneka Brown, Dionne Sturdivant, and Rick Lawson.



2018 Children’s Champion

Dr. Rick Lawson was not done contributing to young people after a 25 year career in the schools.  As Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, Lawson lived the museum’s mission to educate and inspire imaginative, independent thinking through hands-on science, math, and art experiences and programs.  Lawson considers his greatest achievement to be fostering a learning environment of life-long curiosity and exploration for children as well as their parents.

2018 Starfish Public Advocacy Award Recipient

When John Gizdic came to New Hanover Regional Medical Center as President and CEO, his mission focused on not just treating patients who entered the hospital, but also reaching them in the community.  In an effort to begin to address “social determinants of health”, the hospital reviewed its own salary structure and decided to raise its minimum wage to a “Healthy Community Wage” of $11.50.  When parents have access to a “healthy community wage” they may experience fewer stressors and hardships and thus are better able to provide the safe, stable and nurturing supports their children need.