Tom Murdough is known as many things.
Inventor, employer, pioneer, husband, father, grandfather.
The innovator and founder of Little Tikes, Step2 and Simplay3 also embodies another important moniker: philanthropist.
Together with his wife, Joy, Tom has supported organizations across northeast Ohio, including Akron Children’s Hospital. Since 1983, the couple has donated over $2 million to our hospital. Recently, the Murdoughs made a generous $500,000 endowment that will support an exciting new initiative – the Innovation Challenge – that will bolster the ideas of present-day innovators at Akron Children’s.
Committing to pediatric care
Tom and Joy were first introduced to our hospital in 1982 when their son, Peter, severely injured his foot in a lawn mower accident.
“We got to the hospital, and a Dr. O’Dell had just finished a long surgery,” said Tom. “Normally I wouldn’t have said anything, but I asked him to stay just long enough to take care of our son. And he said ‘OK.’ I never forgot that.”
That experience left Tom and Joy with a very positive impression of both our hospital and Dr. O’Dell.
“As we looked at Akron Children’s Hospital, we thought this whole community should be aware of them,” said Tom. “And that’s when we started to support them.”
The Murdoughs supported capital projects at our hospital, including a $1 million donation to the Building on the Promise campaign, which helped fund the building of the Kay Jewelers Pavilion.
“It’s a hospital that cares,” said Marshall Murdough, the Murdough’s son and manager for e-commerce at Simplay3. “It’s a family hospital. And you can count on them.”
Now, through the Tom and Joy Murdough Innovation Challenge Endowment at Akron Children’s, our staff members can count on the Murdoughs to help them pursue ideas for new products or services that could have a positive impact on children and families in northeast Ohio – and beyond.
Supporting innovation at Akron Children’s
“Innovation is about more than just having an idea,” said Stefan Agamanolis, PhD, chief innovation officer at Akron Children’s. “It’s about taking action to bring that idea to life.”
Out of this premise, the Innovation Challenge launched in 2020. Spearheaded by our hospital’s Innovation Center, the annual challenge aims to unlock the creativity of our workforce by inviting them to submit a new idea around a specific theme. The 2020 theme was health care products and supplies, while the 2021 theme focused on reducing the environmental footprint of health care.
Ideas are evaluated based on desirability, feasibility and viability. For those that are promising, they may move into the next phase, which is early-stage development – with activities ranging from assessments to initial engineering work to exploring potential collaborators – to fully flesh out the opportunity.
As a result, the person who submits an idea grows throughout the process. The gift from the Murdoughs will support the critical work of further developing future Innovation Challenge submissions.
“We have a very creative workforce at Akron Children’s,” said Dr. Agamanolis. “The Murdoughs are investing in our people and their very early-stage ideas. Through the experience gained in this program, these are the people that may be starting companies in the future and changing the world for the better, just like Tom did. The Murdoughs are taking the long-game view of this.”
“We made our gift simply because of our belief in the hospital – and to support that,” said Tom. “Bill Considine really was terrific from early on. I think a lot of the success the hospital has had is a direct result of Bill’s attention to detail. He’s built a great team.”
“I just wish Akron Children’s continued success,” said Joy. “We’re grateful for all that they’ve done for us and think it’s fabulous that we have Akron Children’s in this area that people can reach out and have such a quality hospital.”
A gift to support the Innovation Center is an exciting opportunity to help the Akron Children’s team come up with the next big idea that could change the landscape of health care at our hospital – and beyond. Contact Tim DuFore, senior director of development operations, at 330-543-8978 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how your gift can make an impact.