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Sep 09, 2014

How We Pulled Through a Medical Setback

Soon after birth, my daughter Belle was diagnosed with a kidney disorder. Doctors estimated her organs wouldn't last more than 18 months. To everyone’s surprise, Belle's kidneys showed unexpected improvement for several years. But at age 6, Belle’s blood pressure was equivalent to that of a 65-year-old smoker. Needless to say, she was in critical condition and in need of a kidney donor.

My husband Kyle and I quickly tested as donors, which led to doctors finding two malignant breast tumors during my routine physical. Now two of us were in need of immediate help. Thankfully, Kyle was a perfect match and willingly gave his kidney to save our daughter.

After many months of treatment and recovery, we are now a healthy family again. I am in remission, both Belle and Kyle have functioning kidneys and we are all back to normal routines!

Ways to Child Wellness - 2014 Quarter 3 - Helton Family Photo

Watching your child suffer during an illness or injury can be almost debilitatingly painful. So, parent-to- parent, here are a few things that helped me cope while Belle was hospitalized: 

Communication is key. Medical terminology can get complicated. Take notes. Try to keep a running list of questions so you are prepared when the doctor comes. Never hesitate to ask. Stay informed and be your child’s best advocate.

Keep the glass half full. Your child may not always understand what’s necessary to get better. Staying positive as you watch your child suffer is hard, but it’s worth the effort. Don't let your child continually dwell on what they can't do or ask, “Why me?” Lift their spirits by reminding them of what they can do.

Don’t forget to play. Take advantage of all the fun distractions a CMN Hospital has to offer. Belle loved petting the service dogs and visiting the hospital library. Even if your child isn’t able to leave the hospital bed, kind volunteers are often near to help with fun crafts. Spoiler alert: You’ll have fun too!

Soak in the sunshine. Even a short, brisk walk was refreshing during particularly difficult moments in Belle’s journey and my recovery. Don’t sacrifice filling your lungs with fresh air and clearing your mind of hospital worries for at least a few minutes a day. Making time for our needs as parents will give us the strength and perseverance to help our kids to the best of our ability.

Know when to ask for help. Friends and family want to provide support and comfort during times of need. Allow loved ones to sit at your child’s bedside for a couple of hours, bring comfort food, relieve you to call a friend — or take a shower! People are eager to lend a hand. And giving friends the chance to meet some basic needs helps them feel valuable.

Looking back, our family is thankful for these seemingly negative circumstances. Without them we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy the many miracles that have come from them. We now know firsthand how good can grow from what seems like a hopeless situation.

Bella was treated at member hospital Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. To learn more about your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and ways you can help local kids, visit

Sep 04, 2014

Miracle Jeans Day featured by Ragan

Miracle Jeans Day was recently recognized by public relations and marketing powerhouse, Ragan. For more than three decades, Ragan has been the leading publisher of corporate communications, public relations, and leadership development newsletters.

View the original article, here.

Charity hospital network raising funds with a day in denim

Promoting ‘ Miracle Jeans Day’ on Sept. 10, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals asks companies to let employees wear jeans for a $5 donation.

Some health organizations use videos and infographics to raise awareness and money; some even use ice water by the bucket. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is using denim.


On Wednesday, Sept. 10, employees across North America are asked to wear jeans in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a charity that raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals. For a $5 donation, an individual can “earn” the right to wear jeans and participate in Miracle Jeans Day. All donations stay local to benefit the member hospital serving that community.

Further information is available at

Individuals and employees at thousands of locations across North America participated in the 2013 event, raising more than $720,000 for member children’s hospitals. Since its beginning in 2009, Miracle Jeans Day participants have raised nearly $3 million for hospitals.

Many health care pros and members of the public recognize the charity's Miracle Balloon icon, which has raised—often a dollar at a time—more than $4.7 billion since 1983.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund essential treatments and health care services, pediatric medical equipment, and charitable care.


Aug 26, 2014

RE/MAX Miracle Agents: Robert Struck encourages others with son's story

It’s the Month of Miracles! RE/MAX agents are working hard all year to sell Miracle Homes, making a donation to kids in need at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with every closed transaction. But what are these agent’s stories? Stay tuned for our Month of Miracles Miniseries of inspiring RE/MAX agents. 

Robert Struck is raising funds for Hurley Children's Hospital in honor of his son Isaiah.

Miracle Agent Robert Struck from RE/MAX of Michigan has been committed to raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since his son Isaiah suffered severe second and third degree burns on much of his body following a bonfire accident.

Isaiah was rushed to Hurley Children’s Hospital, the closest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital with Level 1 Trauma Burn unit, where he stayed for two weeks. Isaiah recently won the Battle of the Brave national contest put on by Speedway, earning $20,000 for Hurley.


Robert with son Isaiah

Although dad Robert never expected to be “one of those unfortunate families,” he has used this experience to encourage other families and supporting his local CMN Hospital more than ever in gratitude for the medical care, expertise and hope that was given to Isaiah and his family.

The funds that RE/MAX agents like Robert raise each year through the Miracle Homes program is critical to provide needed pediatric care for sick and injured kids in your community, neighborhood and even family. Thank you to Robert and our friends at RE/MAX for your dedicated support! 

Aug 21, 2014

RE/MAX Miracle Agents: Rob Hall uses music to inspire kids

It’s the Month of Miracles! RE/MAX agents are working hard all year to sell Miracle Homes, making a donation to kids in need at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with every closed transaction. But what are these agent’s stories? Stay tuned for our Month of Miracles Miniseries of inspiring RE/MAX agents.

Rob Hall is volunteering and raising funds for James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center.

Rob Hall, RE/MAX Carolina agent, stops at nothing to make sure he’s giving all he has to local kids at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals — even the hair off his head.

Rob Hall with Keri

Rob playing his guitar for Miracle Child Keri 

Literally. Rob wanted to step up his fundraising efforts for RE/MAX and thought of a plan: “Locks to the MAX.” He committed to growing his hair out for one year, gaining support and donations along the way. At the end of 2013, he cut it all off and donated them to Locks of Love and had raised more than $1,600 for CMN Hospitals.

Rob also stepped up his Miracle Homes sales and went through the volunteer training requirements at his local CMN Hospital, James and Connie Maynard Children's Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. Every week, Rob and his wife Sarah would visit, guitar in Rob’s hand, to sing and interact with the patients.

On Miracle Treat Day, Rob become one of RE/MAX’s biggest cheerleaders, meeting at his local Dairy Queen and even getting behind the counter at one point to try his hand at serving a Blizzard!

The funds that RE/MAX agents like Rob raise each year through the Miracle Homes program is critical to provide needed pediatric care for sick and injured kids in your community, neighborhood and even family. Thank you to Rob and our friends at RE/MAX for your dedicated support!

Aug 19, 2014

Miracle Jeans Day-Inspired Crafts and Goodies

Miracle Jeans Day, on Sept. 10, is just shy of a month away and to get you revved up for the “day o’ denim”, we’ve compiled this list of our favorite jeans-inspired crafts and goodies from the web.

Miracle Jeans Day allows groups and individuals alike to trade their work attire for jeans and help raise funds for kids at their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Participate nationally or pick your own day! Learn more and pre-order your official "MJD" gear at


1. Rug

Showcase your playful style with this patchwork denim rug, which is hand stitched with repurposed jeans upon a soft felt backing. A colorful backdrop to any room, it will also serve as an apt conversation starter for any social gathering. Courtesy of

2. Toy Storage Bag

Recycled jeans plus a few slabs of vinyl equals these functional and adorable denim toy storage bags, from Handmade by Meg K.

3. Baskets

We can’t get enough of these denim totes, which can be customized using your favorite pattern for lining. The tutorial, featured by Threading My Way, features measurements for baskets in in three sizes.

4. Slippers

What goes better with Miracle Jeans Day than these recycled house slippers? Follow the step-by-step instructions to create your pair. Get the pattern for free from DoNight (note: your email address will be added to the DoNight mailing list when requesting the pattern).

Aug 12, 2014

The Strangers Who Saved My Sons

This article, authored by Jennifer E. Edwards, mother of CMN Hospitals' 2013 Florida Champions Jack and Luke,  was originally featured on The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood webpage.

In the past six years, I've experienced the importance of quality pediatric care. My sons are two shining reminders of how community support can directly impact the lives of hospitalized children.

Born at just 30 weeks -- 10 weeks ahead of schedule -- my twin boys Jack and Luke each weighed barely more than two and a half pounds.


Jack wasn't surrounded by amniotic fluid while I was carrying him, so his lungs didn't develop properly -- a condition called pulmonary hypoplasia. After birth, he underwent blood transfusions, supplemental oxygen and respiratory therapy.

Luke was born with an underdeveloped nervous system that couldn't regulate his breathing. This meant he would sometimes "forget" to breathe, causing his heart to stop.

You can only imagine how scary this time was for my family and me. The Wolfson Children's Hospital NICU team in our region worked tirelessly for eight long weeks to help my boys make what one nurse called "the most remarkable turnaround ever seen." Silence pervaded many of those first memories with my sons, so those words now feel like music to my husband and my ears.

Jack and Luke were able to return home within one week of each other, just in time for the holiday season in 2007. I remember crying when doctors told me Jack would have to come home with an oxygen tank, but my husband said, "Yes, but he is coming home." That moment was an epiphany for me and reminded me to continually focus on how far they had come rather than how far they still had to go.

Although so much of those next few months were a blur since we were putting all of our energy into surviving, it was worth it.

Before my kids were treated at a Children's Miracle Network (CMN) Hospital, I never knew how much financial support children's hospitals actually needed. As it turns out, it's a lot. I felt it firsthand, as CMN Hospitals' donated funds helped purchase the preemie transporter used to take Jack and Luke to the NICU immediately after they were born.

My member hospital certainly wasn't the only one to help preemies through a rough start at life. The majority of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals house a specialized neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Every day 925 babies are treated in the newborn ICU at one of the 170 North American member hospitals, according to the impact data provided annually by each of these hospitals. That's a lot of hope, healing and specialized care.

And, every year, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals treat 10 million kids from day 0 to age 18 with a variety of illnesses and injuries, according to impact data. These children require specialized care that relies on unique and varied equipment, therapy, research and treatment. This is often very expensive for a hospital to maintain.

It's amazing how $1 can make a difference in the lives of our newborns. Ultimately, I have every person who has donated even $1 to CMN Hospitals to thank for my sons' miraculous turn around.

Join me today and put your money where the miracles are. CMN Hospitals is currently partnering with Johnson & Johnson's Donate a Photo* program. Simply download the Donate a Photo app on your smartphone, snap a pic and send it in. Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to your charity of choice. Just $1 can provide a blanket to newborn in a Children's Miracle Network Hospital NICU. Blankets are crucial to keeping NICU infants warm as they work to develop and heal their tiny bodies.

So help by snapping a pic. Your photo will directly benefit sick and injured children in your community, just like my sons. By joining together, together we can save and improve kids' lives!

U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the 12 Best Children's Hospitals, and all were members of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.


Aug 05, 2014

RE/MAX Miracle Agents: Nancy Allen and niece make a dynamic fundraising duo

It’s the Month of Miracles! RE/MAX agents are working hard all year to sell Miracle Homes, making a donation to kids in need at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with every closed transaction. But what are these agent’s stories? Stay tuned for our Month of Miracles Miniseries of inspiring RE/MAX agents.

Nancy Allen is raising funds for to her niece being treated at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Foundation.

Ottawa REMAX agent Nancy’s niece Kelsey was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 2 ½ years old and spent much of her childhood at Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario, a Children’s Miracle Network hospital.

Nancy and Kelsey CHEO

Nancy with niece Kelsey

When Nancy visited her niece when Kelsey was just 3 years old, the young girl was sitting on the nurses' station right in the thick of things, at the nurse’s busiest time. The nurses patiently let her play with the phone and paperwork, giving her so much attention that the transition to another hospital was difficult because of the strong connections Kelsey had made at CHEO.

The now 23-year-old is inspirational, courageous, confident young woman, which aunt Nancy attributes largely to the staff and friends at CHEO.

Kelsey spends her time helping other children cope with their illnesses and participates with Nancy in many Children’s Miracle Network fundraisers throughout the year, including enjoying a Blizzard Treat at Dairy Queen on Miracle Treat Day.

The funds that RE/MAX agents like Nancy raise each year through the Miracle Homes program is critical to provide needed pediatric care for sick and injured kids in your community, neighborhood and even family. Thank you to Nancy and our friends at REMAX for your dedicated support!

Aug 04, 2014

I runDisney for Those I Couldn’t Help – I am Running for Charity

Charity entries to the sold out Disney Princess Half Marathon are still available through Children's Miracle Network Hospitals! Check out runDisney's latest blog article below about CMN Hospitals charity runner Tisa Daniels published on runDisney, at:

At 34 years of age, Tisa Daniels of Round Hill, VA, is a wife, a mother of two boys and a runner. Four years ago Daniels returned to the sport to accomplish two things; fight off weight gain as she quit smoking cold turkey and start living a healthy, active lifestyle to be a role model for her oldest son. A couple years later after taking a 15-month break to have her second child, Daniels would again look to running to help battle through postpartum depression.


Today, Daniels is running strong as a veteran of several 5K and 10K events. Her current goal is to run the Glass Slipper Challenge at the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Networks Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort, February 19-22. Running a 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday will push her body to new limits, but the distance and physical challenge is not all that’s new. This time she is running for a cause- she is running for charity.

Daniels is thankful that her kids have never needed the services of a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, but working as a social worker at a Level 1 Trauma Center she has witnessed first hand the blessing these facilities bring to kids and parents. It is for those kids, and kids of future generations needing a local hospital that she has dedicated these races to raise money for CMN Hospitals. “I am running Disney as a charity run to help all the families I have seen though the years but couldn’t help,” Daniels said.

Running for charity is a great way to add more meaning to your experience and offers you a chance to give back to people and organizations in need. Starting with the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, runDisney is excited to offer our charity partners the opportunity to use CrowdRise. This registration platform makes it easier for runners to find a charity, register for an event, then track and share their fundraising progress with friends and family.

As Daniels told me, “It is the ultimate gift to be able to raise money to help families who you don’t know, who you’ll never meet, who need it.”

To get information on running for a participating runDisney charity, visit CrowdRise. And click here if you want to join Daniels and run the 2015 Princess Half Marathon presented by Children Miracle Network Hospitals.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human interest stories. To view submissions and learn how to upload your story,

Aug 01, 2014

RE/MAX Miracle Agents: Cliff King motivated by daughter's legacy

It’s the Month of Miracles! RE/MAX agents are working hard all year to sell Miracle Homes, making a donation to kids in need at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with every closed transaction. But what are these agent’s stories? Stay tuned for our Month of Miracles Miniseries of inspiring RE/MAX agents.

Cliff King is raising funds for Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba in Winnipeg, British Columbia, in honor of his daughter's legacy.

When Winnipeg agent Cliff King joined RE/MAX, he immediately jumped aboard the company’s involvement with Children’s Miracle Network in Canada. Little did Cliff know that just months later those Miracle Homes he was selling would be helping to support the medical needs of his own daughter.

Kelsey 053

Kelsey, left, made fantastic relationships with caregivers at Children's Miracle Network hospitals.

At age 16, Cliff’s daughter Kelsey was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma and spent many weeks at her local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba in Winnipeg, British Columbia and the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. The caregivers in the Winnipeg CK5 ward soon became like a second family to the Kings. For the next 2.5 years, Kelsey underwent chemotherapy, radiation, blood transfusions and surgeries to try and defeat the cancer and prolong her life until she succumbed to the disease at home just one day prior to her 19th birthday.

Since his daughter passed away, Cliff has dedicated his free time to volunteering at the Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon every year and raising funds for Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba in honor of Kelsey. Even his son Scott, also now a RE/MAX realtor, has joined his dad in manning the phones.

The funds that RE/MAX agents like Cliff raise each year through the Miracle Homes program is critical to provide needed pediatric care for sick and injured kids in your community, neighborhood and even family. Thank you to Cliff and our friends at RE/MAX for your dedicated support!

Jul 17, 2014

Get Your Groove On for Local Kids

It’s not every day you see both kids and grown adults dancing through a 5k in neon tutus, but it’s a sight that makes one mom especially proud.

Dee Ann Littlefield recalls how the community rallied around her family when daughter Laycee was born with six heart defects and spent the first 11 weeks of her life at their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Three years later, friends and neighbors are again showing their support — some with more rhythm than others — as they shimmy, step and twist their way to the Dance Dash finish line, all while raising vital funds for their community’s CMN Hospital that nursed Laycee to health.


Team "Laycee's League" rallies for Laycee's health at Dance Dash in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Dance Dash, a unique, high-energy event created exclusively for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, is a 5k... with a twist. It challenges participants to not only walk or run a 5k course, but also to learn a few dance moves along the way. Dance Dashers will pause at different points throughout the race to learn a sequence of steps and, at the end, combine them to create a large, flash-mob style dance party.

Littlefield says she was humbled and honored by the outpouring of support and glad to see everyone having such a great time. Two teams dancing and dashing in Laycee’s honor, “Laycee’s League” and “Laycee’s Miracle Warriors,” raised nearly $4,000 for the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Laycee is now 3 years old and doing quite well, so those who know her story were eager to make sure other local sick and injured kids have the same chance at getting better.


Laycee celebrates her third birthday.

Similar stories are popping up as Dance Dash makes its way across the country.

Each participating community will have the opportunity to don their running shoes and dancing gear to help sick and injured kids treated at their local Children's Miracle Network Hospital. Patient families impacted by the local hospital will be leading the way. Participants are encouraged to fundraise for local kids and in return will receive fun, event-themed accessories, including sunglasses, socks, coolers and headphones.


So grab your family, friends or coworkers and sign up for a fun-filled day of dancing and dashing for a good cause. Check to see if your city is participating and register, at: Sponsorship opportunities are also available. To see more pictures and keep up to date with all things Dance Dash, "Like" the official Dance Dash Facebook page at

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