Reflections of a Champion Mom
By Jennifer Edwards
Without a doubt, they are the worst jokes I’ve ever heard. But the kids are laughing so loudly that everyone seated around them can’t help but giggle, too.
As I good-naturedly roll my eyes at my husband, I am convinced these are the best worst jokes ever, because they’re being shared by kids who were told they might never talk, stand or throw their heads back in laughter.
We are on a bus packed with kids chosen as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals 2013 Champions, one from each state, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Selected from one of 170 member hospitals, these Champions are kids who have triumphed over life-threatening illness and injuries to serve as ambassadors for the millions of kids in need of critical funds at children’s hospitals.
We were the family chosen to represent Florida in 2013. Our story began with a difficult pregnancy with twins, during which we learned that one them might never take a breath. Our sons Jack and Luke arrived 10 weeks ahead of schedule, and we spent two months in the Wolfson Children’s Hospital NICU as one struggled with severely underdeveloped lungs and the other with an underdeveloped nervous system. When we got them home, Luke still had to be on oxygen, coming off it just 15 minutes a day. Today, however, I'm watching my boys be boys, and that miracle is not lost on me.
As we reach our destination in Florida, our schedule is nonstop. A few Champions serve as grand marshals in a Walt Disney World parade. Families participate in satellite news interviews with Miss America. Each child is recognized individually with a medal to honor their resilience and dedication to helping spread awareness for the needs of children’s hospitals. It is surreal. It is deeply moving. And this is just the first half of the trip.
We are soon whisked away to Washington, D.C. Here in our nation’s capitol, I fully understand the importance of our ambassador role, as we find ourselves on the south lawn of the White House, taking photos with President Barack Obama.
The President looks down at the heroes in front of him and smiles. He tells them he is proud of them and that when he goes through something difficult, he knows they have been through something even more difficult.
Much too soon, it’s time to start the “good-byes.” The term bittersweet applies perfectly. We’ve cried and laughed and become closer in 10 days than some people can in years.
We are home now. Back to real life. A little mundane, but I am appreciative every day that I am able to experience something as normal as “mundane” with my family.
Jack and Luke Edwards
Soon, CMN Hospitals will announce its 2014 Champions, featuring a new group of inspiring fighters and their families. These kids will have overcome rare diseases and life-threatening injuries or will be currently living with a chronic illness. The one thing they all share is their time spent being treated at a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
So join me in putting your money where the miracles are and donate life-saving funds to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital to benefit local sick and injured kids like mine.
Jennifer Edwards is the mother of twin boys who just finished up serving as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ 2013 Champion ambassadors for Florida.
The Champions program is organized by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which raises funds for 170 hospitals across North America. Each child is chosen to represent their home state and hospital as well as the millions of kids treated annually at CMN Hospitals. To learn more about the Champions program, visit: CMNHospitals.org/champions