Children's Champions Stories :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Meet Our Children’s Champions

Just like every patient has a story, we know that every runner, walker and fundraiser has their own motivation. We wanted to know why our Children’s Champions chose to go above running or walking a marathon or half, and decided to fundraise for Nationwide Children’s, so we asked – “what moves you?”. We hope you enjoy their stories! Become a Children’s Champion now!

Meet Brenda

Children’s Champion – Brenda's Story

My family has been connected with Nationwide Children's ever since my daughter, who is now 3, was diagnosed with Kleefstra Syndrome. We are learning more about the syndrome as we go along, but she seems to have a very very mild form of it. The staff of therapists we have been working with have played a HUGE part in helping our little girl succeed and surpass any limitations that may have been presented because of her diagnosis. We receive financial aid from Nationwide to help cover the cost of the therapies which is why I chose to be a Children's Champion. I know the financial aid is a blessing to our family, and know so many others who depend on it as well.

Thank you to all the other supporters out there who help make the financial aid a part of the many ways Nationwide Children's changes our lives.

Children’s Champion – Lynn's Story

Meet Lynn

I have chosen to become a Children's Champion for a couple reasons. My family has been closely connected to Nationwide Children's since the early 80's. I had an older sister who was a patient here and lost her life at 3 1/2 to a brain tumor. I grew up learning about my parent's experience here at Children's and the impact the nurses made while caring for my sister. This was a huge influence in my life and a major reason that I became a nurse! I have been a nurse for 6 years here at NCH on the rehab unit. I have had the pleasure of caring for many families over the years. One family in particular, I became very close with. I cared for Will Smith every day of his 4 month stay on rehab. At discharge, I was basically part of the family. His sister and I formed a close friendship that we maintained after the discharge of her younger brother. Will's sister has been a marathon runner for many years along with her mother and multiple other family members. I have not! She told me the family would be applying for Will to become a Patient Champion for this year's marathon. She then also informed me that if he was chosen, I would need to run in the half marathon with her. Well fortunately for him and unfortunately for me, Will Smith IS a Patient Champion this year at mile 2. I am becoming a "runner" and I am currently training for my first half marathon while attempting to fundraise to give back to this hospital that has given so much to my family and to the other families I have cared for.

Children’s Champion – Paul's Story

Meet Paul

I am a native of Grove City, Ohio, but have not lived there since 1965. I had the privilege of running track and cross country at The Ohio State University and then attending the OSU College of Medicine. For my last two years of medical school, I spent many days and nights at the Columbus Children's Hospital. I treasure memories of working with excellent teachers whether interns, residents, staff physicians, nurses or patients. I spent 12 years in general pediatrics until specializing in dermatology and today I still see many children. I am very grateful for the lessons learned and time spent at Nationwide Children's and for my mentor there, Dr.Bruce Meyer.

I have run many marathons, but this will be the first one ever in Columbus. It is a pleasure to raise funds as a Children's Champion. It is, indeed, exciting to give back.

Children’s Champion – Ericka's Story

Meet Ericka

What motivates me to be a Children's Champion? Everything about my miracle man makes me want to do more and be a better person. In utero and while in the NICU he fought so hard and he just has this spirit about him. He had hydrops and there's not that much research done about it. It's rare so most OB doctors don't catch it until it’s too late and most NICU docs don't know how to treat it. I think getting his story out there will hopefully help raise awareness for hydrops. Thank you for letting us be a part of this amazing event!

Children’s Champion – Carolyn's Story

Meet Carolyn

This year I have decided to run in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus 1/2 Marathon, and have also decided to become a Children's Champion. I am passionate about bettering myself as well as the community, values that were taught to me by my parents, who have led by example my entire life and who are training to run the full Marathon this year. I often look for chances to get involved in the community but as a student it can be difficult to find the time and resources to participate in each volunteering opportunity that I would like to.

The half marathon was an easy and obvious choice for me; it is bettering me by making me healthier and more ambitious, it is challenging me (I've never been quite the runner), and it is allowing me to give back to the community. The possibility to help children is attractive to me as well- my family has been a foster family since 2009 which has helped me recognize the potential that children have to contribute to the world, provided they are given the opportunity.

I am excited for this race, it gives my parents and sister a chance to leave Atlanta and come to Columbus for the weekend, and upon completion of the race we get to enjoy the fact that we have taken strides towards bettering ourselves as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Children’s Champion – Corey's Story

Meet Corey

I signed up to run the 1/2 marathon last year - and even got some fundraising done before I found out I was pregnant. I was hoping to still run/walk but my OB and husband put the kibosh on that. I was determined to run this year as a perfect way to lose the baby weight. Also, as a Cardiology fellow, I see patients and families helped so much by the hospital and staff every day - I loved the idea of having a chance to give back.

The 2013 1/2 marathon became much more meaningful on November 2nd. This was the day I found out our son had congenital heart disease in the form of dTGA (transposition of the great arteries). The rest of my pregnancy went very smoothly; Noah was born April 12, 2013 and was transferred right away to Children's. He underwent a balloon atrial septostomy in the cath lab that evening. He was able to be a normal baby for a few days - learning to eat and being held before he underwent corrective open heart surgery on April 17th. Noah was very sick the night of his surgery but received excellent care in the CTICU followed by the Cardiology floor and was able to be discharged home at just 11 days old. He hasn't looked back since - he is chubby and happy. We are so blessed to have him in our lives.

When our friends found out about Noah's heart disease several of them would say something along the lines of "Oh, he has the perfect parents (as my husband is a Cardiology fellow at OSU). You'll know just what to do." But it wasn't that way at all - I couldn't (and still can't) apply any of my medical knowledge to Noah; I wouldn't want to. I found it very easy to just be his mother while he was there. I think the main reason behind that is the wonderful care he received. I am particularly grateful to the nurses - I watched so many of them stay late to chart and make sure the drips were correct; staying late away from their families so they could take care of mine. I know for a fact they give that care to every patient that they encounter. Each person who cared for Noah - nurses, PCAs, unit clerks, anesthesia, cath lab, OR, H04B, H04A - was wonderful.

When I want to stop training and take a nap (which is just about every day), I think of everything Noah went through; I think of everyone who helped him and I keep going. It's the least I could do.

Children’s Champion – Jeff's Story

Meet Jeff

I chose to be a Children's Champion for several reasons. I did it for myself, my family, my community and most of all the patients at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

I had always wanted to run a marathon, and in 2012 I accomplished that goal at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Columbus Marathon, just two days prior to my 30th birthday. I beat my goal, and had such a sense of achievement that I wanted to run it again this year, but faster. My goal for 2013 is 3:15, and reading the stories of the Patient Champions inspires me to train hard and push myself further every time I lace up my running shoes.

My wife and I have been foster parents for 6 years and have welcomed 12 children into our home. We have been blessed to adopt two of them. Our most recent placement was born premature at 33 weeks and is only two weeks old now. She is doing well but we keep a close eye on her for any delays or complications. It is our hope that we will be able to adopt her as well. We have had other children in our home that have required care at Nationwide Children's and the level of care is always outstanding. My children are a big inspiration to me. Whenever I see them out on the course I always slow down to give them a high-five. I want to not only be their father but also be a positive and inspiring role model in their lives.

A few years ago I held a volunteer position in the OT/PT department at Nationwide Children's. I originally did it to complete a prerequisite for school, but after I completed the required number of hours I decided to keep going and ended up with 85 volunteer hours. The tasks of the position were not glamorous, and rare were the opportunities to help with patient care, but when I did get the chance I was amazed at the progress the patients made from week to week and with the close relationships the therapists and aides built with the patients and their families.

Last year I wanted to be a Children's Champion, but since it was my first marathon and I wasn't even sure I'd finish I decided to wait. But this year my confidence is high and I know my family, friends and community will help me to reach my goal of $1,000.

Children’s Champion – Sheryl's Story

Meet Sheryl

When I was looking for a fall marathon, I saw the Columbus one and was sold immediately. I have always had special place in my heart for kids. I worked as a day camp counselor at the YMCA. Those were the 2 greatest summers ever. Not just because I got to act like a kid all summer, but it was because I got a chance to change the lives of kids who came to our camp.

I have donated here and there for children's hospital because it breaks my heart every day when I hear another child has a disease or has cancer. These kids should not be spending their days in a hospital; they should have the same opportunity these kids I work with at the YMCA have, playing sports, going on field trips with day camp. I pray every day that these kids in the Children's Hospital will one day get that chance to spend the week at day camp, or sign up for a youth baseball league, be a normal kid.

What made me sign up to be a Children's Champion was for this reason. So I cannot just run for these kids, but to help them get what they need so they can get out of the hospital. I felt this was that race that I needed to step it up, just not in training, but how I could pay it forward. The story that hits me the most is Grant, the 13 year old who named his brain tumor, Michigan. I am a proud maize and blue fan, Michigan all the way, and when I heard he named his tumor that so he can "beat Michigan," I just got goose bumps, even more so when Brady Hoke went to visit. This kid will have a special place in my book even, the only time I will actually say "beat Michigan."

Children’s Champion – Olivia's Story

Meet Olivia

I decided to be a Children's Champion for no particular reason. I don't have a sibling who's in the hospital, or a best friend who's thrived at Children's, I'm simply running for the kids who are too sick to run. I know there are kids who would do anything to be able to get out of their hospital beds and run, but for some they just simply cannot. My father has a friend whose wife was head of the Pediatric Oncology department at Children's for some time, before moving to California. I had the privilege to shadow her for a day while I tossed around ideas of what I wanted to be when I was older. While shadowing her I saw the devastation on families faces as they fought this terrible disease, and I saw the determination on the faces of families and the children. In that moment I wanted to be able to offer them some kind of hope, some kind of reassurance that everything would be okay, but I could not do that, and I didn't know what to say to these precious families, all I could do was smile and make small talk. Running as a Children's Champion is my way of saying to the children and their families that you are not fighting alone. There are people out there fighting for you, supporting you, and cheering you on. While running a half marathon is going to be a challenge for me, it is all made possible knowing that there are children who are in the hospital hurting, yet utterly beautiful and inspiring. So, I guess to answer why am I running as a Children's Champion? I would say I'm running to support the children and families who have inspired me for so many years.

Children’s Champion – Callista's Story

Meet Callista

When Ryan and I found out we were expecting twins at my 9-week ultrasound, we were both excited and shocked by the news! We were quickly referred to Ohio State's high-risk maternal-fetal medicine practice as there was no membrane seen separating our girls. A subsequent ultrasound confirmed my OB's suspicion, we were expecting mono-mono twins. This means our girls shared both a sac and a placenta. Mono-mono twins are incredibly rare and represent about 1% of all twin pregnancies. The chance of survival for this type of twin is 50-60% due to a high risk of twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) and cord entanglement.

We were told to plan on a delivery at 32 weeks, as that would give the girls the greatest chance for survival. We were also told that I would need to be on constantly monitored hospital bed rest beginning at 28 weeks.

The girls, however, had plans of their own! On May 20th, after a 3-day hospital stay for kidney stones, an ultrasound showed the girls were in distress. They were delivered via emergency c-section at 25 weeks and 2 days gestation.

Madison Renee and Camden Nicole were fighters from the beginning! At only 3-days old, they were both taken off of their ventilators as they were strong enough to breathe on CPAP!

Our world was turned upside-down when just one week later, we discovered that our sweet Madi had a stage 4 brain bleed. After several seizures and needing to be resuscitated multiple times; Madi finished her race and earned her angel wings on May 29, 2013.

We were blessed to be given 9 wonderful days with our beautiful daughter who taught us so much in her short time here on earth.

Madi has been an amazing guardian angel for her sister Cami, who is still a feisty little fighter in the Nationwide Children's NICU. At 3-weeks-old, Cami was diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis and had to have emergency surgery to remove a section of her intestine. She recently had her reconnection surgery and is thriving! She is back on feeds, and has been breathing on her own since 34 weeks gestation (when she started pulling off her nasal cannula and dropping it out of her crib!) We are hoping to bring her home with us sometime in early fall!

This year we are running for our two beautiful baby girls – we’re running to honor the daughter we lost and the daughter we have who continues to fight and exceed all expectations – they are both a huge inspiration to us and proof that even the tiniest of people can make a huge impact on the world. We hope the story of our angel and our princess inspires you.

Children’s Champion – Kylee's Story

Meet Kylee

I was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer (germ cell tumor) in November 2007 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  I was 19 years old and a sophomore in college at Miami University.  I was diagnosed the night before Thanksgiving and had my tumor removed the morning after Thanksgiving.  Prior to my cancer diagnosis, the worst health problem I had ever had was strep throat.  Within twenty-four hours, I endured my first PIV, CT scan, chest tube and NG placement.  Although I was a young adult, away at college, the first week of hospitalization was truly terrifying.  After my tumor removal, I endured six rounds of chemotherapy, officially going into remission in March 2008!  I was able to return to college the following fall, and managed to graduate just two semesters behind my graduating class. 

Prior to my diagnosis, I was relatively ignorant to the world of pediatrics.  Once I became a patient, my eyes were opened to the world of “sick children”.  I knew that I would like to change my studies to focus more on a career in the health care setting.  Considering my disinterest in the sciences, I knew med school or nursing school were out.  My interests lied more with education and psychology, and I ultimately decided to pursue a career in child life and began working at Nationwide Children’s as a professional in December 2011.  I now have the opportunity to provide psychosocial care to children, and help facilitate positive coping throughout hospital admissions.  It really is amazing to see how things have come full circle, how such good can come from such pain.  While Oncology will always have a special place in my heart, I am lucky to have the opportunity to work with our pediatric pulmonary population.  To be able to support children with rare, chronic, lung disease has made for a wonderful career thus far.  I still stay connected with the oncology group by participating in the AYA program and attending social events with other cancer survivors. 

This past March, I celebrated being 5 years cancer free.  As a former runner, pre-cancer, I decided to pick up my old hobby and celebrate my milestone by running my first half-marathon.  What better race to run, than one that benefits the hospital that saved my life and continues to be part of my everyday routine?  I can’t wait to celebrate good health and a second chance at life this October.  It is going to be one of the best memories of my life!

Children’s Champion – Derek's Story

Meet Derek

In September of 2007, Payton Julian, the son of two of my best friends, was diagnosed with a stage four Wilms Tumor, affecting his kidneys and spreading to his lungs. Payton was 3 years old. He and I shared one main common interest, Legos! Before going to the hospital, I would stop at the Lego store at Easton to pick up a few things. While he was going through his surgeries to have his kidney removed and scans, I would sit in the waiting room at the hospital and build whatever I picked up. Payton went through chemo and radiation treatments through June of 2008. Today he is a very athletic 4th grader at Ontario Stingel Elementary in Ontario, Oh. Without Nationwide Children’s Hospital, there is always that chance that I wouldn’t be able to see Payton whenever I want. The doctors, nurses and everyone involved saved his life. He was my inspiration to become a Children’s Champion last year and will continue to be my inspiration until I can’t do anything anymore.
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