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Our 2019 Champions

Every year, our member hospitals identify a remarkable child to serve as their Champion. Together these kids represent the more than 2.3 million children treated in our Canadian member hospitals each year. Their stories demonstrate the incredible advances that have been made in child health care in our country, and the personal journey children and their families take to overcome illness or injury.

The Children’s Miracle Network Champions bring awareness to children's health and educate communities about the life-saving work happening at our member hospitals. They also speak about the role Children’s Miracle Network Canada plays in supporting that work.

In March 2019, we will travel to Orlando during #ChildrensHospitalsWeek to celebrate this inspiring group of ambassadors as well as pediatric hospitals and the vital role they play in improving the health of children across North America.

Show your support by sharing these stories and donating today.

CMN Champions

Select a Province:

Alberta

Hudson

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Epilepsy, Anxiety, Tourette Syndrome, and OCD

Hudson's parents had been concerned about unusual episodes of eye rolling, injuries and frustration their son had been experiencing since he was a toddler. They were shocked to discover he was having hundreds of “absence” seizures daily. In addition to epilepsy, Hudson was beginning to develop tics and mild Tourette Syndrome.

Following a proper dose of epilepsy medications, Hudson’s seizure activity was under control. However, he was also struggling with anxiety and OCD, which began to escalate at an alarming rate. He became tormented by disturbing thoughts that he couldn’t get out of his mind, which caused him to be terrified about being separated from his parents. Following a two-week stay on the Mental Health Unit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety and provided a comprehensive plan for treatment, his parents started seeing a real difference in their boy.

While Hudson is still taking medication for epilepsy, he is living seizure free. His tics have been significantly reduced, thanks to non-invasive brain stimulation called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation that his specialists used to treat his Tourette Syndrome.

Hudson’s diagnosis of OCD and anxiety will be a life-long challenge. However knowing that he has the support of the Alberta Children’s Hospital gives him confidence and comfort knowing they are there to help him when he is struggling.

Hudson has grown into a compassionate young man who recognizes and reaches out to others facing challenges.

Funds In Action: Donations like yours help fund Brain Health at the Alberta Children’s Hospital including initiatives like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, non-invasive brain stimulation that Hudson’s specialists used to treat his Tourette Syndrome.

Alberta

Ryland

Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Neurology patient – Aqueductal Stenosis (blockage in the brain)

At just five-weeks-old, Ryland was diagnosed with Aqueductal Stenosis, a blockage in the brain which makes him dependent on a shunt in his head to stay alive. Over the first two years of his life, Ryland’s shunt kept failing, resulting in countless trips to the emergency room. Now an active five-year-old, Ryland shows no signs of slowing down. He takes medication twice a day to control his seizures, and he’s always happy to visit his friends at the hospital.

Ryland doesn't let his mobility issue keep him from trying all kinds of different activities, and he is always commenting on how he is going to get big strong muscles when he grows up. No matter what the situation is, Ryland is always happy, rarely complains and just goes with the flow.

Ryland is still learning about his medical condition. He knows that he needs to put sunscreen on his scars on his head and he knows that sometimes his head hurts.

Funds In Action: Your donation funds pediatric neurology research at the Stollery Children's Hospital, resulting in less invasive, more successful treatments for kids like Ryland who depend on a shunt to stay alive.

British Columbia

Avery

BC Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Born with a heart defect where the anomalous left coronary artery arises from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA) instead of the aorta.

The first two years of Avery’s life were like a roller coaster. She would scream and sweat profusely, and catch every cold and flu that came near. Ultimately, Avery’s heart murmur was detected, and she was diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect whereby her coronary artery was not attached in the right place, causing her heart muscle to have been denied oxygen since birth. Avery’s heart will never be the same and she will likely always need medication and future surgeries as she gets older.

Avery is doing very well. She loves dance, music, digging in the garden, playing with her dog, and keeping up with her big sister. Avery has a strong understanding of her heart condition and is comfortable discussing it with others.

Avery maintains that having heart issues is all she's ever known, and she would never let it hold her back. She wants to help other kids with similar situations to not be scared.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund the research and equipment at BC Children's Hospital required to diagnose heart murmurs and treat rare congenital heart defects like Avery’s that affects 1 in every 300,000 people.

Manitoba

Gianna

Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba Champion

Premature birth at 27 weeks

While pregnant, Gianna's Mom developed Preeclampsia, a condition where the mother’s blood pressure is extremely high, which led to her daughter being born at 27 weeks. Gianna was just over a pound at birth and had to go directly to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), as she was experiencing congestive heart failure. Enduring heart and eye surgery, Gianna spent seven months in hospital. The incredible care Gianna received has helped her to become the thriving girl she is today.

Every year on Gianna’s birthday, the family visits the hospital to show their support and appreciation. With the help of her children’s hospital, Gianna went through surgeries, treatments and medications that led her on the path to recovery. Her family volunteers and fundraises to give back and help other children at the hospital who still need help.

Gianna always makes people smile and laugh. She has a very strong sense of who she is and what she wants.

Funds In Action: Your donation helped purchase a bed-side ultrasound machine for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, allowing medical teams to see underneath the skin to accurately identify veins and determine the condition of a baby's lungs, like Gianna's, without requiring x-rays.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Sammi-Jo

Janeway Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Cystic Fibrosis

Sammi-Jo was born a seemingly healthy baby, but right from the start something just wasn't right, with many visits to the emergency room for flu-like symptoms. At 33 months old, Sammi-Jo was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Sammi-Jo is required to do chest physiotherapy every day before and after school, along with her medication.

Sammi-Jo loves to go on road trips with her family. She is very close with her 9-year-old brother, Morgan, who is her best friend. They miss each other greatly when Sammi-Jo is admitted to the hospital.

Sammi-Jo is shy at first, but has a sweet and gentle personality.

She always has a smile and says she's okay, even on the days she is not feeling well. At times, she will cry when having medical procedures done, and then apologize for being upset when the nurses are finished and give them a hug. Sammi-Jo is a very strong girl.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund Drager monitors for the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre, which allows their team of medical experts to monitor the hearts of children like Sammi-Jo.

Nova Scotia

Van

IWK Foundation Champion

Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Type 2

When Van was eight months old, his family noticed he wasn't growing or developing like he should. And at 10 months old Van was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), Type 2 – a genetic neuromuscular condition that affects every single muscle in his body. His scoliosis caused him to need back surgery.

Van was one of the first patients in Canada to use a new innovative technology called magnetic controlled growth rods, or MAGEC rods. These rods can be lengthened in clinic using a large magnet on the surface of his skin, meaning fewer surgeries in his future. Since surgery, Van has grown two and a half centimeters and his overall health has greatly improved.

Van is full of life with an outgoing personality, witty humour and ability to speak in front of big crowds that definitely sets him apart. He is brave and experienced beyond his years. Van proudly says he is 'the same as everyone else, except I'm just not as strong and use a wheelchair'.

Funds In Action: Children’s Miracle Network funds help support the purchase of cough assist machines which help clear secretions from the lungs of patients with weak or compromised coughs.

Ontario

Geoffrey

SickKids Champion

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)

In 2014, Geoffrey experienced high fevers, no appetite, no energy, and continual weight loss. With low blood counts and a high fever, Geoffrey was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a life-threatening disease of the blood and immune system, from which he fully recovered. At a routine follow-up, it was found that he had Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a type of cancer with no cure except for a bone marrow transplant.

After rounds of chemotherapy to bridge to the bone marrow transplant, he was admitted to hospital for 5 weeks in isolation at SickKids while he received this complex treatment.

Through it all, his spirits never wavered.

Now in Grade 10 and attending high school full-time, Geoffrey is a caring and joyful person, wise beyond his years. He understands the importance of talking about his illness to benefit other patients as well as raise awareness. Geoffrey wouldn't change a thing because his cancer journey 'made me the person that I am today'.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps make it possible for SickKids to provide the latest medical treatments and equipment to care for their patients, leading to new discoveries to help kids like Geoffrey live better.

Ontario

Natalie

McMaster Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Myxopapillary Ependymomas

During one of her dance classes, 14-year-old Natalie began to feel pain throughout her body that made it difficult for her to move. An MRI revealed that a rare form of tumours, known as Myxopapillary Ependymomas, were developing in her spinal column. Natalie underwent an eight-hour surgery to remove the tumours. Luckily, they were able to remove all the growths, and Natalie was discharged and returned home after six days at the hospital.

Although Natalie still experiences some pain, her condition continues to improve. She will have routine MRIs the rest of her life as this type of tumour has a high chance of re-occurrence.

Always willing to lend a helping hand and never complaining, Natalie accepts her condition and doesn't want any special attention. In fact, Natalie believes her illness has allowed her to put things into perspective and does not take everyday things for granted. Natalie cannot wait to get back to dancing.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund a digital neurosurgical microscope that allow doctors to see detailed micro-views of tumours, aneurysms and blood vessels in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in safer procedures for kids like Natalie.

Ontario

Joey

Children's Health Foundation Champion

Leukemia

It was devastating news when four-year-old Joey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, but sadly, even more difficult times were to come. Just a few weeks into Joey’s treatment, his mother passed away suddenly, leaving Dad, Scott, to support his three sons, all under 12 years old.

Over the next three and a half years, the staff at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre became like a second family, as Joey endured tough treatment sessions. During these difficult times, Joey never let the diagnosis of cancer slow him down. Consistently upbeat and positive, his smile is contagious, and it has been a source of inspiration to his family, his school and to everyone that he meets.

Joey admits that having cancer was scary, and it made him sad that he couldn't just be a normal kid, but he loved his doctors and nurses and got to meet a lot of 'cool people.' Now, 9 years old, Joey has 'kicked cancer’s butt' and still visits the hospital every six months for a check-up.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps support important programs at Children's Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, such as the Child Life Program that helped Joey cope with his difficult leukemia treatment.

Ontario

Eric

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation Champion

Type 1 Diabetes

On a family camping trip, Eric didn’t feel quite right. This led to a visit to his pediatrician, and then to CHEO, who ultimately diagnosed him with type 1 diabetes. The Diabetes Clinic provided the family with lots of training from the diabetic educators and also arranged, during those first stressful days, a nurse to come to their home twice a day to give Eric his first insulin injections. Eric had a year of injections, 8 months of multiple daily injections, and then received an insulin pump.

This process gave Eric a full understanding of his disease and the balance necessary to manage it. Eric has taken an active role in helping his school understand what students with type 1 diabetes need to be healthy, including a safety plan for staff.

Eric always sees the good in every situation, and the support of his family helped him adapt to his diagnosis. Eric is naturally positive, but sees the realities of diabetes all too clearly. He knows there is no vacation from it. Type 1 Diabetes is with him every single moment of every single day.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund the CHEO Diabetes Learning Lab, a program that educates kids like Eric and provides tools needed to manage type 1 diabetes.

Quebec

Jean-Gilles

Opération Enfant Soleil Champion

Leukemia

When he was 9 years old, Jean-Gilles (an otherwise healthy child with boundless energy) developed an intense fever. After several blood tests and a lumbar puncture, he was found to have acute myeloid leukemia. For Jean-Gilles and his family, this news devastated them; it was as though the world stopped turning. His illness was very aggressive and required a bone marrow transplant to save his life. The following year, a relapse occurred and Jean-Gilles had to receive a second bone marrow transplant to save his life a second time.

Jean-Gilles’s illness had many impacts on his physical condition and his mental health. He lived in isolation at the hospital for more than two and a half years. Chemotherapy weakened his bones, heart, lungs and tooth enamel.

Jean-Gilles has already inspired thousands of people with his courage, his strength and his good mood despite his condition. Jean-Gilles has kept smiling and celebrated his two-year remission in September 2018.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund equipment required to give precise diagnosis and offer less painful treatments for kids like Jean-Gilles, including IRM units and progressive cavity pumps.

Saskatchewan

Blake

Jim Pattison Children's Hospital Foundation Champion

Premature Birth (twin brother lost at birth)

Blake and his fraternal twin brother, Noah, were severely premature and were born 14 weeks early. Moments after their birth, the fragile babies were rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Heart murmurs were detected in both babies, and surgery was needed immediately. Blake and Noah were only together for two weeks before the surgery proved to be too much for Noah, who tragically passed away.

Blake was in for the fight of his life and after 46 days, his parents were finally able to hold him for the first time. Blake would spend the next 4 months in hospital. Though the odds were stacked against him, this sports-loving, energetic boy has now grown into a thriving 12-year-old. Blake loves telling his story to 'be a voice for kids who don’t always have a voice'.

Blake's time in the NICU and the loss of his twin brother taught him the importance of helping others who need it, and the importance of giving back.

Funds In Action: Your donation helps fund Neonatal Intensive Care Unit equipment at Jim Pattison Children's Hospital, such as the Giraffe Omnibed Incubator, that helps treat and warm premature and ill babies like Blake.