Local Champion Visits White House, Capitol Hill

WVUH Patient Selected for Children’s Miracle Network Program

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — International ambassadors frequently visit The White House, but this week a young ambassador from West Virginia met with President Bush as a representative of 17 million hospitalized children. 

Mackenzie Griffith, 6, of Bridgeport, W. Va., was one of 50 children nationwide who triumphed over severe medical challenges and was chosen to represent West Virginia as part of Children’s Miracle Network’s Champions Across America presented by CO-OP Network. The mission of these young ambassadors is to share the message that their lives are better because of the tremendous work of children’s hospitals. 

At age 4, Mackenzie developed anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an unusual type of cancer for a child her age. During treatments, infections impeded her recovery, and she spent much more time at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital than anticipated. While there, Mackenzie won the hearts of the doctors and nurses with her infectious smile. Doctors credit her great attitude and character for helping her survive her fight with cancer.

A happy and healthy Mackenzie now sings, dances and tumbles. She’s known throughout her community for her heartfelt rendition of “I Hope You Dance,” and truly waltzes into the heart of everyone she meets.

Amazing stories like Mackenzie’s were shared as the Champions participated in a variety of activities in Washington, D.C., including a visit to The White House Tuesday to meet President Bush and an exclusive luncheon on Capitol Hill. 

“These Champions have overcome more than many of us can even imagine,” said Children’s Miracle Network co-founder Marie Osmond. “Each story testifies of the strength of these kids and the outstanding caregivers who have changed their lives.” Osmond welcomed the children to Walt Disney World prior to their visit to D.C., as they participated in the national television production of the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration

Country music artist,Tracy Byrd, an active supporter of Children's Miracle Network for many years, joined the children in Washington.  “I feel honored to join these remarkable ambassadors and help them share the story of children’s hospitals,” Byrd said. “Their experiences and strength are an inspiration to all of us.”

 WVU Children’s Hospital is one of 170 Children’s Miracle Network children’s hospitals. More than 6,000 children are admitted and 1,500 babies are born each year at WVU Children’s Hospital.  Patients come from every county in the state and from surrounding states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland.  In addition, the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) annually helps an average of 600 premature babies get the special help they need to begin their lives.

Children's Miracle Network—the alliance of premier hospitals for children—is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. Each year the 170 Children's Miracle Network hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind.

More information about Champions Across America and details about the children selected from each state can be found at www.cmn.org/champions. To view photos of the Champion children’s visit with President Bush, visit www.cmn.org/2006champions.

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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