From the beginning of Brenna’s life, we have been open about sharing. Ultimately, we have wanted to create a culture that is more educated about and more accepting of differences, and we have wanted to connect with other families in this difficult and beautiful journey, because even when we may feel isolated, none of us are truly alone.
From that, we have witnessed Brenna finding her own voice, explaining her skin in simple terms to her peers and saying hi to the child at the mall who is staring at her.
Now, Brenna and our family have been given a new opportunity to use our voices to share.
Yesterday morning, Brenna was named the 2016-2017 Children’s Miracle Network Champion Ambassador for our state of Illinois.
Each year, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals identifies one child with a “remarkable medical story” from each state, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to serve as the face for the millions of children treated at CMN Hospitals every year.
Over the years of Brenna’s life, we have become very involved with fundraising and awareness efforts for our local children’s hospital and Children’s Miracle Network office. When Brenna was first born, she was rushed to the NICU, spending nearly 6 weeks in critical care there, and we have no doubt that she is with us today because of the quick action and high-quality care of the neonatologists, our pediatric dermatologist and the medical staff at the children’s hospital. She has been hospitalized, had surgery and otherwise used hospital services multiple times in her short life.
To say we are honored to be able to give back to the organization that has helped give us our daughter’s life falls doesn’t rightly express the depths of our gratitude.
Champions and their families travel to Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Fla. on an official Ambassador Tour to highlight the vital work of children’s hospitals, so we are beyond excited for these upcoming trips over the next year where we will get to both sight-see as a family and also advocate for the critical work of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
We are hugely grateful to all of our amazing family, friends and hospital staff who came to celebrate this huge event with us yesterday! Brenna was cheered on by aunts, uncles, cousins, dear friends, teachers, doctors, and of course, grandparents!
We had lots of microphones in our face yesterday, which was intimidating (I even went off on a ramble and made all of the news people laugh when I said “Yeah, I don’t know where I’m going with that – don’t use that!”) But I love that this new role is already pushing us to be the best voice we can for children like Brenna to receive the care they need to survive and thrive.
Without wanting to sound like an acceptance speech, we want most of all to say Thank You. Thank you to St. John’s Hospital Hospital and to the Children’s Miracle Network, for all that you do in our community. Thank you for the overwhelming family and community support we’ve been privileged to receive over the last four years, and especially thank you to our medical team for being the best of the best. I hope those words never sound hollow, because we truly can never thank everyone enough.
Yesterday, I spoke mostly about how we felt about this recognition – hugely honored and humbled, of course – but I also strongly feel something else: so proud of this girl and who she has become. She has not only been through a great deal of health problems in her four years and ongoing daily health care, but she has emerged as a strong-willed advocate for herself who regularly displays compassion and empathy for others.
I’m so excited to see what this year brings for Brenna as the new Children’s Miracle Network Champion of Illinois!
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