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Dec 17, 2014

On the road with CMN Hospitals Champion Ambassadors

Amber is the mother of Nathan Ferrell, our 2014 Champion representing the state of Florida. Below, she speaks to Nathan's experiences as a Champion Ambassador and their family's account of joining him for the 2014 Champions Amabassador Tour. (Pictures by Kirstin Roper Photography)

At the beginning of the year, my 6-year-old son, Nathan, was chosen to be the 2014 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for the state of Florida. It was an incredible honor to be nominated by University of Florida Health Shands Children’s Hospital, and it was quite humbling knowing that in this role he would serve as the ambassador for all pediatric patients who visit the numerous CMN Hospitals in our state. I have to admit, we had a lot of fun traveling around Florida attending fundraisers, telling Nate's story, and showing our gratitude to the many organizations that support this cause that is so dear to our hearts.

The yearlong ambassadorship culminated in a tour through Washington, D.C. and Orlando, Fla., and was unlike anything we have ever experienced. We are not the same people we were before participating in the Champions Tour; it changed our life in many ways.

Thanks to the astounding sponsorship of Delta Air Lines, Marriott International and Chico's FAS, a Champion from each state and each Canadian province were given the opportunity to share their stories while being honored for their remarkable medical journeys. Accompanied by their National Goodwill Ambassador, Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev, the U.S. Champions met with state legislators in Washington, D.C. to discuss the charitable needs of children’s hospitals. They raised awareness for CMN Hospitals during a visit with First Lady Michelle Obama and the First Dogs, had lunch in the Dirksen Senate Hearing Room, explored the U.S, Capitol and paid their respects at Arlington National Cemetery during a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.





While the tour’s primary purpose was to highlight the vital work of children’s hospitals, it also offers its share of “fun” for Champions and their families.

From a movie night hosted by Fox Home Entertainment at the J.W. Marriott to the Delta chartered flight, to a Gifting Suite hosted by Chico’s FAS to pamper moms, the trip was chocked full of many special moments. Emotions ran high during the Medal Ceremony with Nick Cannon, Miss America, and Delta executives, as each Champion was honored, as well as during the Disney character dinner and a personal concert by Lady Antebellum, in which Champions joined the group on stage for a couple of songs.

If that wasn't enough, the trip concluded with a magical day at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, where the Champions participated in the Move It, Shake It, Dance and Play It Street Party, served as the grand marshals of the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade and finished out the night enjoying the ever popular Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.





So, when you read the above paragraphs, you can totally understand why I say it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But what makes it a "life-changing" trip?

Well, that would be the Champions; these children are the definition of the word in every sense, each and every one of them. They have defied odds, proven medical odds wrong, and fought through treatments, trials, heartache, pain and pure exhaustion with every fiber of their being. They have done so with grace, resilience, and an incredibly positive attitude that inspires everyone who is privileged to cross their paths. And what do they want to do in their free time? They help other kids in need by bringing much needed awareness and funds to our CMN Hospitals. All of this is what makes each one of them the epitome of a Champion.

And the families behind these Champions: I looked into their eyes and instantly saw a reflection of our own journey. Each of us has been on a similar, yet different, path. I saw their worry, their fear, their hearts that have been broken and mended a hundred times. I saw their joy, their wonder, their delight in seeing how much their Champion has accomplished. Without words, their eyes told stories of the nights they lay wide awake worried about the future, the times they crouched in a shower to sob because no one could hear them there, the internal pain they felt when their child was looked at differently or the tinge of jealousy that erupted from watching the complete normalcy of friends’ lives.

But in the midst of the struggles that lay deep in the eyes of our new friends, their pain was overshadowed by the intense joy they felt each time they were able to hug their child. We saw elation in watching them experience so many amazing opportunities in the span of a week. We saw overwhelming love and emotion well up in each parent as they sat back and watched 54 children who have met various challenges throughout their lives all meet, connect, and instantly become best friends — for life — forever. All because of CMN Hospitals.

So when I say that we are not the same as we were before this trip, it is because of each of these Champions, families and individuals. All together, we created ONE family: the #Champions14 family. Being home, back to reality, has been much harder than I ever imagined. I feel like pieces of our hearts reside in every single state in our country now. But in the end, I am grateful that we know precious people all across our nation who share our desire to further the momentum of CMN Hospitals.

We are #Champions14 forever.


Amber, with her son, Nathan



Dec 12, 2014

Give a Gift This Holiday Season That Gives Back

This holiday season Chico's FAS and its family of brands, Chico's, White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper are proud to continue their support of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals with a new holiday campaign celebrating children and caregivers!

Miracle Bear

The Miracle Bear is inspired by everyone who cares for sick or injured children. These caregivers are best friends, great listeners and amazing supporters, no matter what.  They make things happen and have a knack for making every day better than the one before.  This holiday season we want to thank all the miraculous caregivers who help save children’s lives because they make us believe in miracles.


Amber Ferrell is a great example of a caregiver. Her son, 2014 Florida Champion, Nathan, has overcome a lot in his short life. Amber says, “As my son courageously fights against the daily effects of a chronic disease, I want him to know that I will always love him, fearlessly protect him, and wrap my arms around him in support throughout this difficult journey. The Miracle Bear instills a sense of warmth in my heart as it beautifully represents a reflection of our journey in life together.”


When you purchase a Miracle Bear for $25 in the U.S., or online, $15 will be donated to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. You can help make miracles happen for the sick and injured kids being treated in your community.

The Miracle Bear can be purchased right now at all Chico’sWhite House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper  boutiques in the U.S. as well as on each brands individual websites, while supplies last.

Dec 05, 2014

Help Kids Stay Safe This Holiday Season

6 timely saftey and nutrition tips to keep kids safe this holiday season.

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The holiday season is upon us, and as you prepare to enjoy all the wonderful things associated with this time of year, don’t forget to keep nutrition and child safety top of mind so the entire family has a jolly holiday.

Experts at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals recommend these six safety and nutrition tips:

Prepare for potential holiday hazards. With the excitement the holiday season brings, close supervision of children shouldn’t be overlooked. Experts at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recommend keeping loose button batteries often found in children’s toys and singing greeting cards out of reach, as they are dangerous when swallowed. Keep holiday guests’ medication out of reach of young children, a grandparent’s purse can be a dangerous place if a pill minder or medications are left inside. Though often not poisonous, winter plants and berries — including dried arrangements— present a choking hazard. The Poison Control Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia warns that decorations and ornaments also pose a choking hazard and can cause injury if broken or chewed.

Simplify the stress. The holidays can be a joyful but stressful time. Establish limits that will prevent financial burdens on your family. Schedule some daily quiet time for yourself every day to help decrease blood pressure and improve blood circulation. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, prioritize what’s most important and keep things simple. Lean on the support of your friends and family if feelings of stress or depression become overwhelming

Beware of string lighting. Medical staff at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Center remind you to avoid placing strings of lights near beds, cribs or on the interior of bedrooms as these can pose strangulation hazards if they become dislodged. To avoid injuries, check the bulbs periodically to make sure that none are broken.

Limit over-eating at holiday parties.  It’s a fun time of year full of socializing, holiday goodness and lots of food. To avoid over-eating at holiday dinners, start with bowls of nuts or raw vegetables with dip. You’ll feel better if you fill up on healthy options. Chewing slowly allows your brain to register when you are full. Whenever possible, make the healthier food choice, but give yourself permission to enjoy seasonal foods in moderation.

Prepare and thaw holiday favorites correctly. Food safety is imperative when making your holiday specialties. Thaw and prepare food according to packaging instructions. For more information, call the Food Safety Hotline: (800) 535-4555 or visit for holiday food safety advice.

Prepare before you head to grandma's. When readying for car trips to visit relatives, make sure that windshield deicers and antifreeze are being used according to directions. When securing kids in a car seat, remove heavy snowsuits or extra-bulky coats. Instead, keep a blanket nearby to tuck them in with after they’re properly secured in the car seat harness.

To learn more about your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and ways you can help make kids healthier, visit


Nov 26, 2014

Ways to Give to Your Children’s Miracle Network Hospital

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1. Anything helps.

From donating to participating in a local fundraiser (Miracle Treat Day, anyone?), there are a variety of ways to help your Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Visit to learn about the different ways you can help save kids’ lives. 

2. Purchase a Miracle Bear.

Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper are donating $15 of every Miracle Bear purchase to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. The Miracle Bear is protective and loving and is inspired by everyone who cares for sick and injured children. Available while supplies last - online or in store.

3. Reach out to your member hospitals’ director and find out volunteer or donation needs.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals support 170 member hospitals across North America. If you are looking to do something for the CMN Hospital near you, simply click on the Find Your Hospital link on our website and search by zip code or state.

4. Become a Wheel of Fortune Wheel Watcher.

This holiday season, Wheel of Fortune is partnering with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in the Secret Santa Sweepstakes, brought to you by Walmart. Each weeknight from Dec. 8 - 19th, three lucky viewers who are Wheel Watchers Club members will win the same prizes as the in-show contestants. And the amount won by each home viewer will be matched, in cash, and donated to the Children's Miracle Network Hospital of the viewer's choice. Sign up for your FREE SPIN ID by Nov. 30th for your chance to win big prizes for yourself and for local kids!

 5. Donate.

We are thankful for the generosity of people like you who are helping make miracles happen in your communities. For more information on Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the 10 million kids treated at a CMN Hospital annually, visit:

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Oct 14, 2014

Great Clips Employee Witnesses The Impact Of Donations, FirstHand

My 7-year-old Miracle is named Olivia. Last November she showed symptoms of what seemed like a common cold. My husband and I did not think much of it until she started having difficulty breathing. We took her to a nearby clinic, and the doctor diagnosed with a cold and told us to come back in a week’s time if she was still sick.

Over the next few days, Olivia’s breathing was becoming more impaired. She was clearly not improving and as a mother, I knew something was wrong. I called her pediatrician and explained her symptoms over the phone. She asked to see Olivia right away.

Within an hour we were at the doctor's office, then being rushed to Utah’s Primary Children's Hospital with a serious case of pneumonia. The staff worked quickly to install a chest and feeding tube, and helped her recover as they pumped four liters of infection out of her little body.

I ‘ve never really understood what Children's Miracle Network Hospitals was all about until our nine-day stay at a member hospital. I was impressed with the playroom provided thanks to donor funds, and remember the volunteers who spent time in our room when Olivia was too sick to leave. The doctors were very informative and made sure we knew what was going on at all times.

SAM_1404_Olivia & Kelli

Spending nine days in a hospital and seeing all the good this network does makes me so thankful to all those who give. I’m committed to donating every time I am asked, as I want to give back what was given to my daughter.

Kelli Sanchez is a Great Clips employee at the Millcreek Plaza location in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of many nationwide locations selling $1 Miracle Balloons throughout October 2014. This is her account of her daughter's experience at the Children's Miracle Network Hospital in her community.

Oct 06, 2014

Help Kids Stay Safe This Halloween

Take the tricks out of trick-or-treating this year with these Halloween safety and nutrition tips.

Ways to Child Wellness October Image

Halloween night is swiftly approaching. As you prepare to send off your little ghouls and goblins for a night of tricks and treats, keep in mind the below safety and nutrition tips from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Prepare for trick-or-treaters. Before Halloween night begins, make sure your yard is safe and ready. Replacing burnt out light bulbs and turning on outdoor lighting will help prevent accidents as night sets in. Experts at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Ore. recommend removing items from your yard that kids could trip over like sprinklers, hoses and rakes. They also encourage appropriately guarding pets to avoid potential injuries. 

Give out the goods. Consider giving out healthier alternatives to your trick-or treaters this year. Healthcare professionals at Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation in Canada suggest handing out sugar-free gum, whole-grain crackers or raisins. Stickers and pencils make great giveaways as well.

Let your kids shine.Sending your kids out in the dark doesn’t have to be scary or unsafe. Adding reflective tape to your child’s costume or candy bucket helps them be seen in the evening hours. Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn. recommends adding flashing buttons to your child’s costume. They also encourage attaching mini flashlights to your child’s wrist or candy bucket to allow them to see in poorly lit areas.

Buddy up. On average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed while walking on Halloween compared to other days of the year.* Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. recommends children under 12 trick-or-treat and cross the street with an adult. Always walk facing traffic on sidewalks or paths if available, and take advantage of all traffic signals and crosswalks. 

Beware of tricks. Getting home after a long night of treat collecting is exciting, but before your kids dig into their loot, do a quick inspection of their candy bag and look for any tampered treats. Throw away any candy that is unwrapped or has a torn or worn wrapper.

Limit candy intake. Discussing and setting expectations for how much candy your children are allowed to eat can limit overindulging. Specialists at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta encourage sending your trick-or-treaters out after filling up on a healthy family dinner and recommend letting kids choose three to five pieces of candy to eat on Halloween night. To avoid a post Halloween sugar surge, allow kids to choose their favorite candy and then offer to buy-back or trade any leftover candy for money or prizes.  

To learn more about your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and ways you can help make kids healthier, visit

*Mickalide, AD, Rosenthal, KM, Donahue, MP. Halloween Safety: A National Survey of Parents’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors. Washington (DC): Safe Kids Worldwide, October 2011.


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!

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