WVU Children’s Hospital patient to represent state as Children’s Miracle Network Champion Child

Samantha Stalnaker to be publicly introduced on March 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When Samantha Stalnaker of Nicholas County was three days old, doctors at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital performed surgery to repair an opening in her spine caused by spina bifida.

This year, Samantha, who is now 5, will represent West Virginia and join other child ambassadors from every state as a part of the Children’s Miracle Network program Champions Across America presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The program brings attention to the work of children’s hospitals by honoring remarkable children who have overcome severe medical challenges.

In 2003, WVU Pediatric Neurosurgeon John Collins, M.D., performed surgery on Samantha to close the low-lying opening in her spine. By the time she was 2 years old, she had to have surgery three more times to drain fluid from her brain. To date, Samantha, a kindergartner, has undergone a total of six surgeries, but she is on target developmentally.

“She is just a bundle of joy and full of energy and is obviously going to have lots of potential in her life,” Dr. Collins said.

As the 2009 Champion Child for West Virginia, Samantha and her fellow champions will travel for one week – first to Florida for the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration event at Walt Disney World Resort, and then to Washington, D.C. Samantha will visit Capitol Hill to share her story of medical victory, representing the 17 million children treated at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals each year throughout the United States.

Samantha will publicly be introduced as West Virginia’s 2009 Champion Child at an event to be held at 4 p.m. on March 12 at the Walmart (#1351) in Beckley. In 2008, this store raised $27,646 for Children’s Miracle Network and WVU Children’s Hospital.

Since 1987, Children’s Miracle Network and Walmart have worked together to help children by raising money for children’s hospitals. Walmart and Sam’s Club employees, customers and members have raised and contributed more than $460 million for children’s hospitals.

WVU Children’s Hospital is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in West Virginia. Each year, WVU Children’s Hospital provides care to more than 7,000 newborns and children, who come from every county in West Virginia and also from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. On average, 1,600 babies are born annually at WVU Children’s Hospital. Almost three-quarters of the deliveries are high-risk. WVU Children’s Hospital physicians provide care for children at the hospital in Morgantown and at clinics throughout the state.

Samantha Stalnaker


For more information:
Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 02-09-09

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