Howard Jacobson's connection to Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center goes back to 1996 when he served as co-auctioneer for its annual fundraising gala.
His commitment to the hospital came two years later, following a life-threatening bicycle accident involving his 3-year-old son.
"What brought me into the hospital was my son's accident," he says. "He was in a terrible bicycle-car accident. The chief of surgery, Walter Pegoli, and his whole staff were so reassuring in our situation that it made us feel really comforted.
"What kept me connected is the fact that Golisano Children's Hospital is part of one system of care for our children in the Greater Rochester area. It's like no other specialty."
Jacobson felt the need to repay the hospital for its efforts.
"I was impressed and wanted to do something," he says. "I wanted to give back, like a lot of grateful parents, and was able to do so in a way that was very meaningful for them and I was able to tap into my talents."
Some 24 years later, his son is doing well.
Jacobson has served as chairman of the hospital gala since 2002, coordinating all of its planning and execution. The 24th annual event last October raised a record $1.3 million for the children's hospital.
"He is a fantastic leader, bringing enthusiastic creativity that keeps everyone excited and wanting to come back year after year," says Nina Schor M.D., chairwoman of the Department of Pediatrics at URMC.
Jacobson organized the 2001 Horses on Parade project that raised $100,000 for the hospital and the Animals on Parade project in 2003 that generated $30,000 more.
"Every hospital in the region is connected-through the doctors, the pediatricians, the surgeons-to Golisano Children's Hospital," he says. "You are connected to the resources at the University of Rochester. Everyone gets along. Everyone collaborates and is working together for the benefit of the children of our region."
Jacobson became chairman of the hospital's board in 2004 and held that position for six years.
"He is a constant advocate for the hospital, always championing the work we do and encouraging others to get involved," Schor says.
"He never misses an opportunity to find new ways to support the hospital, whether through connecting local business with fundraising opportunities for the kids or through leveraging his spotlight in the community to bring more awareness to the work the hospital does to improve the lives of the region's children and families."
Jacobson, managing partner at Perinton marketing agency Dixon Schwabl Advertising Inc., has been the driving force behind the growth of the gala in recent years, says Michael Goonan, vice president and chief financial officer at URMC.
"Even before I got to know Howie personally, the reputation was that he took any opportunity he had to give the community a chance to support children," Goonan says. "His creativity and bright, positive energy for improving children's lives are unmatched."
Jacobson has been involved with several other boards, including the Harley School, the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection, Camp Good Days and Special Times and EquiCenter Inc.
He was instrumental in finding providers of dental care to students at the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection. He later arranged for eye care and health care for the Hillside students.
"Howie certainly has no shortage of business responsibilities," Goonan says, "but Howie is gifted at making the children's hospital feel like his priority."
Health Care Achievement Awards Special Supplement: 3/23/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.