Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Champion Tour Day One: Atlanta

What a day and what a start for Caden's Champion tour with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals! We flew out of the Harrisburg airport in the morning.

 Caden was very excited to take his first trip on a plane. He was even lucky enough to invited into the cockpit to meet the captain.

He loved the takeoff but even more,  he loved flying over the clouds. He wanted to keep going up to outer space but Daddy said, "Not today."

Despite my concerns that he might have ear or breathing problems with the pressurized air, Caden did great! After exiting the plane, we were greeted by a big welcome banner and Caden got very excited each time he spotted a Champions sign letting us know we were headed in the right direction.

All of the CMNH staff were on top of everything, making sure we found our luggage, the train, the hotel and had snacks. I can't imagine the logistics involved in planning an event like this with families from all over thg country and working with the various medical needs of the children. It's mind-numbing to think of the coordination and attention to detail required but they pulled it off! Frank and Caden managed to get some time in the hotel pool.

 Tonight we had a welcome dinner followed by an ice cream bar. None other than the CEO of CMNH John Lauck sat with us to enjoy the ice cream and we were grateful for the time to get to know him.

 I was also excited  to congratulate him on recently receiving an Ernst and Young
Entrepreneur Award. How cool for the work of a non-profit to be considered for such an honor! We were then joined by Vice President Roger Cook who started the Champions program. What a treat it was to learn about its history.

Did I mention that the centerpieces were fish bowls? Caden really wanted to take our fish to the pool but he settled for swapping fish faces.

And then Zendaya casually strolls in and was so kind and nice. That's right. Zendaya AND an ice cream bar. Whoa.

Many of the kids then ran around swapping autographs in the Champions bio book. Caden especially liked meeting all these new friends and their siblings. Of course, he signed all their books "Caden Hulk". This was the MOST amazing thing to witness. All these children who've battled many illnesses, survived many accidents and defied the odds immediately bonding and supporting each other. The spirit in the room was intense. And they demonstrated the story behind the naming of the Champions program which Roger shared with me. As the CMNH team  sat around thinking of names for this new program and how it should operate, someone mentioned visiting DC and trying to get a White House tour kids. Someone else said why shouldn't they get to meet the President? All these championship sports teams get to meet him and these kids are bigger champions than these athletes. And so it became the Champion program!

On to Day Two!

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