Bush tours hospital before speaking at the Florida Forum
Carrying on a family tradition, 43rd Florida Governor Jeb Bush toured Wolfson Children’s Hospital and participated in the Florida Forum.
Bush visited with several children and families at the hospital before speaking Thursday night as part of the Florida Forum Lecture Series at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, presented by The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
His family is no stranger to childhood illness.
His older sister, Robin, passed away in 1953 at age 3 from leukemia, when he said treatment was not as advanced as today. He shared his family’s story with the parent of a child with leukemia during the tour.
He also emphasized to a full house at the Florida Forum that Wolfson Children’s Hospital is “spectacular” with "incredible technology, great nurses and great doctors serving all these wonderful children."
Bush was the final speaker in the 2013-2014 series. The Florida Forum was established by The Women’s Board in 1992. Proceeds from the benefit for the next five years will provide funding for a Pediatric Center of Distinction at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Their goal is to raise at least $4 million toward the funding target.
The Florida Forum has enriched the intellectual and cultural life of Jacksonville for over two decades, while contributing more than $6 million to Wolfson Children’s Hospital. This year’s series was presented by Florida Blue, Landstar System, Inc. and Wells Fargo. The other two speakers this year were former Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair and bestselling author Michael Lewis.
Bush is among a long line of speakers in his family who have supported Wolfson Children’s Hospital and the Florida Forum.
Jeb Bush’s father, President George H. W. Bush, spoke during the 1995-1996 series; his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, spoke for the 1993-1994 series and also hosted the opening of Wolfson Children’s Hospital in 1993, and his brother, President George W. Bush, was a speaker for the 2010-2011 series.
Jeb Bush told the audience, “It’s a joy to be here at the Florida Forum” and “to provide support for Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which does such great work.” He also talked about meeting childhood cancer survivor Bryce Williams, who turns 13 on January 18 and was honored at the Florida Forum on stage. Bryce was successfully treated at Wolfson Children’s Hospital for osteosarcoma, the most common bone cancer in children.
“Congratulations to the hospital for the great work they’ve done,” Bush said.
In his speech, Bush focused on topics such as immigration reform and revamping the education system to improve outcomes for children.
“We need to transform our education system so every child gains the power of knowledge,” Bush said. "illiteracy destroys lives."
He emphasized how only 25 percent of students are fully college-ready or career-ready.
“That is not acceptable for a great nation,” Bush said.
“We have an education system designed for a completely different era,” he later added, emphasizing the need for school choice, charter schools and rewarding great teachers.