There are more and more havens in our community where children can go to be safe, healthy, and whole. A mini house on wheels allows them to step inside and explore potential dangers they then learn to avoid at home. Fire stations have become spots where parents can guarantee car seats work and fit correctly in their vehicles. A Smithsonian- affiliated museum lets kids take on fun roles normally reserved for grownups. Even at home, a nurse might visit to see what’s needed to prevent future hospital visits.
These places and experiences exist in part because of the Bradshaw family and their devotion to the community they love. Annette and William Bradshaw have donated millions to groups that make Greenville a safer, healthier city to grow up in. As they sit side-by-side, filling in each other’s thoughts and sentences, the two say they give simply because they can. Back in 1979 when they bought their first Oldsmobile- Cadillac dealership in Greer, philanthropy wasn’t necessarily an option.
“For a lot of our business career we owed a lot of money and didn’t have a lot of extra to give back,” says William. “We didn’t have the resources early on to make a huge impact.”
That dealership became Bradshaw Automotive Group, now with four locations. It’s still family-run as the second generation (son and son-in-law) begins taking leadership and supporting giving.
“WILLIAM AND ANNETTE BRADSHAW ARE A COUPLE WHOSE GIFTS OF TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE THROUGHOUT THE LAST 20 YEARS HAVE BOTH SAVED AND ENHANCED THE LIVES OF OUR CHILDREN SERVED BY ORGANIZATIONS IN THE UPSTATE, AND WHO COMMITTED THIS YEAR TO CONTINUE THEIR LEGACY OF GIVING WITH THE PERMANENT ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BRADSHAW INSTITUTE FOR COMMUNITY CHILD HEALTH AND ADVOCACY WITHIN GHS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL.”
George F. Maynard, III, vice-president of institutional advancement, Greenville Health System
The Bradshaws have worked with Safe Kids Upstate for more than 15 years, starting with an initiative that creates car-seat checkpoints throughout the Upstate. And this year, an undisclosed, seven-figure gift to Greenville Health System made headlines as the largest in the hospital’s history, creating the Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Heath and Advocacy at GHS.
The Bradshaws wanted to keep their names undisclosed, too. But William Schmidt, chairman of the department of pediatrics, helped the couple understand how their giving inspires others. “We want other people in the community to look at them and say, if the Bradshaws can do that, what can we do?”
HEART HEALTHY // Blessed by the success of the Bradshaw Automotive Group, William and Annette have focused their efforts on improving the Upstate community, specifically by partnering with GHS in the area of children’s health.
It’s not just about the money: The Bradshaws are beloved for sticking around long after checks are signed and cashed.
“People don’t realize [they] are so giving of their time and talent, as well,” says Nancy Halverson, president and CEO of the Children’s Museum of the Upstate. “They stay engaged and do the hard work by your side.” She says the Bradshaws, founding supporters, helped underwrite and design an exhibit where children learn science and math through playing at racecar driving.
“Of course the day that it opened, who was here but Annette and William playing with kids in the exhibit,” says Halverson.
The Bradshaws are known for connecting the dots. Annette was key in joining Safe Kids with GHS, and then extending that partnership for a safety exhibit at the Children’s Museum. “Now we’ve seen a whole other avenue where kids fall through the cracks,” Annette says of the GHS gift, noting health issues a grandchild and foster child in their own family have faced.
William says it’s others’ gifts that motivate him. “Our little bit that we do really doesn’t go that far. It takes a lot of people to make a difference, and I think Greenville’s blessed in that we really do have a generous community.”
THE HEALTHCARE TRANSFORMATION AWARD HONORS OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS OR AN ORGANIZATION THAT ACTIVELY AND COMPASSIONATELY WORKS TO TRANSFORM THE HEALTH OF OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH CONTRIBUTIONS OF TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE.