Thursday, June 11, 2015

Champion Tour Day Three: Washington, DC

Here we are halfway through the trip and I still can't grasp that it is really happening! Being around these amazing Champion children is so inspirational. They are full of light and life which makes it hard to reconcile that happy image with their medical histories, knowing the dark and emotional journeys from which they've traveled.  It's also an unique experience to have this immediate bonding with the families because no matter the medical journey, whether it was due to a congenital or acquired condition, an accident or an illness, we've shared those feelings of helplessness and the instant change in your life perspective when your child's health or even very life is on the line. No other roomful of strangers could connect like this. It certainly makes it difficult for me to keep my eyes dry this week!

So today we stormed Capitol Hill and took our message of awareness for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals directly to the decision makers of our country.

Caden is easy to spot in the group photo of all the state Champions. He's the one with the celebratory fist in the air. Because of course.

Caden had a lot of hugs for Miss America the past couple days. He even made her Instagram account where she declared him the best hug giver in all the land. She oughta know!

We then attended a luncheon with an incredible view over the DC skyline hosted by Senator Orrin Hatch. We were hoping for a tour of the White House but unfortunately it was not possible. And even if we had been there, the visit would've been canceled or interrupted because it was a crazy day for security with multiple bomb threats and evacuations! Instead we stayed at the Capitol Building and visited the offices of our Pennsylvania Senators. They were tied up in meetings but it was fun to make an appearance and sign the guest register. When they review that, they will feel sorry to have missed a chance to meet "Caden Hulk"!

There was one moment of panic today.  I wanted to get pictures of Caden on the steps of the Capitol so I asked him to go up a few while I crossed the plaza area to get the whole building in the shot. Suddenly a security officer of some sort holding a RIFLE stepped onto the terrace over Caden. And a bike cop rolled up to Caden on the steps and handed him a paper. What was happening? I dashed back to my boy thinking he was getting arrested! Maybe given the bomb threats, we weren't supposed to be standing on the steps. But it turned out that the bike cop was making Caden a junior officer and put a sticker badge on him. The armed dude was keeping an eye on us, however. You can see him in the background here. That wasn't unsettling at all. .

We finished the day at the White House. Even if we couldn't get inside, we at least wanted to see it. However, security was still on high alert and we were turned away from the area several times before we finally made it. Caden wanted to climb the fence. I almost let him.

The Pennsylvania Champion was proud to represent on Pennsylvania Avenue! And taking his ambassador role seriously, Caden made sure to say hello to everyone we passed on the street which was a lot of people from all over the world. But he kept his spirits high and put smiles on a lot of faces. Spreading awareness while spreading joy. A perfect job for Caden!

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