Industry Veteran Donates $27 Million to Children's Hospital

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Children's Hospital of Orange County announced that former LA Spas owner Bill Holmes made a $27 million gift to name its new pediatric hospital tower, set to open on its main campus in spring 2013. In honor of Holmes' generosity, the tower will be named The Bill Holmes Tower. The Holmes gift is the largest investment in the organization's history from a living donor and is the first to name a building at CHOC Children's.

The 425,000-square-foot tower will house Orange County's only fully-dedicated pediatric emergency department, in addition to advanced operating rooms, laboratory, pathology and imaging services – each with a pediatric environment and staff. The seven-story building, featuring leading design and safety principles, includes enhanced patient and family amenities to create a serene, healing environment for children.

"We are extremely grateful for the support from Mr. Holmes," says Kim Cripe , president and CEO, CHOC Children's. "His generous donation will help us usher in a new era at CHOC; one that truly transforms pediatric medicine, making children's futures brighter than ever."

In addition to his $27 million gift, Holmes previously pledged $200,000 to CHOC Children's, which included a donation to name one of the private patient rooms on the oncology floor of the new patient care tower.

"This is my legacy gift to CHOC Children's and to the children and families in the community," says Holmes, who moved to Southern California from the Midwest in his teens and built his career in the region.

He adds, "The new tower expands on what CHOC can do for the children in our community. Orange County residents should take tremendous pride in having a world-class pediatric facility here."

Bill Holmes boasts a legendary history in the pool and spa industry. Born in 1928 in Iowa, he hitchhiked to Sacramento, Calif., two weeks after high school graduation to find a job. His goals were humble: to earn a living and save $50,000, which he thought would be sufficient to retire.   

After working with German POWs to assemble parts at the signal depot, he later he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Korea. After his deployment, Holmes attended college and returned to Sacramento, where he worked in the ready mix concrete business for five years.

Sometime around 1955, with $500 in start?up money, Holmes began a four?year venture developing coping for swimming pools. He eventually expanded into pool equipment distribution through his company,Package Vinyl Liner Pools, & Etc. In 1979, he invested in a small company, Spa Shells, and more than doubled the company’s profits within six months. Shortly after, he started his own spa manufacturing business, LA Spas. Under his direction, the company prospered. He sold it in 2004 to retire.

Holmes' $27 million gift demonstrates significant momentum in the "Change CHOC, Change the World" campaign, which concludes in June 2013. The comprehensive fundraising campaign is designed to help CHOC Children's realize its vision of achieving national recognition as a premier children's hospital by building a new pediatric care tower; establishing a substantial endowment to support recruiting more of the world's top pediatric experts who can drive research and clinical breakthroughs; and building upon the academic and research affiliation with UC Irvine and its School of Medicine to advance innovative treatments and cures for children – locally and across the globe.

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