MEET THE MIRACLE KIDS
Each year, children from northern and central Wisconsin are chosen locally to represent children treated at Marshfield Children's Hospital.
This year, our Miracle Kids – Morgan, Gavin, Mason, Briley, and Elliot - each have a story to share and they all have one thing in common. Their stories are made possible because of support from people like you.
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Since her diagnosis of scoliosis with Sprengel deformity – or “bent bones” as she has called it – Morgan is determined to live life to the fullest. The 14-year-old has had numerous procedures and spent much of her young life in and out of Marshfield Children’s Hospital for her condition. While this would be difficult for most, Morgan’s courage continues to shine through, and she never lets anything dampen her incredible spirit.
When Morgan’s journey began, her family was certain they would need to travel hours out-of-state to receive the high-level care she needs. Morgan’s family is incredibly grateful for the care she is able to receive so close to home, from specialists they can trust. Thanks to the specialty care at Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Morgan experienced a unique procedure in 2018. She was able to have magnetic rods placed in her back to help her move more freely and reduce the number of procedures she would need in the future, giving her more time to enjoy being a kid.
In August 2020, Morgan had what she and her family hope to be her last surgery: a spinal fusion. While this procedure was “by far the most painful recovery she has experienced throughout her journey,” Morgan’s strength and perseverance got her through it. During her hospitalization, Child Life Specialists helped distract her from the pain and support her through those difficult times. Regardless of how she feels while in the hospital, Morgan always enjoys her time spent with the Child Life staff and the activities they offer to take her mind away from the discomfort.
Morgan has big dreams for the future. Inspired by her caregivers at Marshfield Children’s Hospital, she plans to become a nurse and help provide the same care and support she has received. She also hopes to grow at least one more inch!
Watch Morgan’s story
Gavin is known as the life of the party wherever he goes. Whether he’s playing sports, hanging out with his friends, in the classroom or spending time with family, he loves to make people laugh. That’s because for Gavin, laughter is the best medicine.
Shortly after Gavin was born, he became very sick and his parents brought him to a local hospital. He experienced issues with his lungs and digestion but it was a newborn screening that revealed he has Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body. This diagnosis was a shock to his parents, who decided to move their entire family to Marshfield so they could be closer to the specialized care Gavin needed. Over the next months and years, Gavin underwent many procedures and multiple surgeries, as well as dozens of medications. His lung health has remained stable with specialized vest treatments, but gastrointestinal issues have continued to affect his daily life. At one point he required gastrointestinal procedures every few months, and he has never gone more than a year without one or more surgeries.
Those procedures were tough on Gavin and his family, especially early on. When he was young, Gavin’s parents couldn’t fully explain to him why he was in pain and needed to go to the hospital so often. The Child Life and Expressive Therapies team worked with Gavin’s parents, brother and Gavin to help them better understand his condition. Using medical play and coping techniques, they were able help Gavin through procedures and distract him during his hospitalizations. Music Therapists also worked with Gavin, playing music with him to give him positive experiences during his hospital stays. On long days at Marshfield Children’s Hospital, Gavin’s family was also provided with meal tickets funded by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals so they had one less thing to worry about.
As Gavin has gotten older his family and care team have found ways manage his condition, and new medication is reducing the need for frequent procedures. Gavin still has good and bad days but his future is bright. He needs to visit Marshfield Children’s Hospital often yet and every time he comes in, he greets the doctors, nurses and Child Life Specialists with a smile and a few jokes.
Today Gavin is an active, outgoing teenager who loves hunting, basketball, videogames and bike riding. He’s been through a lot, but he doesn’t let Cystic Fibrosis define him.
Watch Gavin's story here.
Mason was born with Velocardiofacial syndrome, which is caused by a deletion on the 22nd chromosome. There was no indication of possible complications prior to Mason’s birth, but shortly after he was born his care team detected a heart murmur. Within the next few months and with additional tests, it was found that Mason had additional heart defects (ASD/VSD) and was struggling to gain weight. He also had some unique facial features. Genetic testing was completed, and it revealed Mason’s underlying condition.
His first year had many ups and downs. At just six months of age, Mason began experiencing seizures. He was further diagnosed with cortical dysplasia, a disorder that occurs when the initial brain structure does not form properly. When he was eight months old, Mason underwent heart surgery to correct his heart defects. At a year old, Mason’s parents knew he had a significant developmental delay and would likely be unable to walk or talk. He continued to experience seizures as he grew and was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to his muscle spasticity. In these early times, Mason had a feeding tube placed. Due to growth, he eventually underwent hip surgery.
Throughout Mason’s many hospital stays and surgeries, the Child Life and Expressive Therapies team supported him and his family through procedures using medical play and distraction techniques. They also brought Mason gifts like blankets to make his hospital stays more comfortable. On long appointment days, Mason’s family received meal tickets, which could be perceived as just a little thing but can mean so much. When Mason got a bit older and wanted to be more mobile, support from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Marshfield Children’s Hospital helped him obtain a new adaptive bike built just for him. Mason loved the bike and being able to participate in activities with his family and friends.
Today Mason is a happy kid who enjoys school, riding along with his dad in races and marathons, going to the zoo or the beach and playing on his iPad. An app on his iPad even allows him to “use his voice” to communicate what he wants. While he will remain dependent on his caregivers, he is outgoing and engaged with the world around him. No matter what the future holds, Mason will continue to shine bright and live his life to the fullest.
Watch Mason's story here.
Sassy, spunky and spitfire are all words used to describe Briley. She loves to play basketball and be outside. Like most teenage girls, she likes to hang out with her friends. But most importantly, Briley is a fighter.
Briley was a healthy, active kid who came down with what seemed like a simple viral fever in 2021. She tested negative for COVID-19, the flu and strep and after a few days started to feel better. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when she began experiencing double vision and leg weakness which rapidly progressed. Eventually, she was unable to walk and had difficulty swallowing.
Her parents called the Neurology department at Marshfield Children’s Hospital and were advised to bring her straight to Marshfield. There, an MRI showed that she had Guillain-Barré syndrome—a rare autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerves.
Briley was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit for treatment, but her care team told Briley’s family that her condition would get worse before improving. As the disease progressed, Briley continued to decline until she had to be put on a ventilator to help her breathe.
Briley’s care team including nurses and Child Life Specialists supported her and her family through that scary time by helping them understand what was going on. Though Briley could only communicate by blinking and moving her eyes, Child Life Specialists interacted with her each day, talking to her, brushing her hair, adjusting her blankets and making her feel as comfortable as possible.
In just 10 days, Briley was off the ventilator and began the slow, difficult process of rehabilitation. Child Life Specialists used medical play techniques to help her gain back function and occupational and physical therapists pushed her to recover, even using her love of basketball as part of her therapy. When Briley
finally left the hospital 45 days
later, she walked out smiling and dribbling a basketball.
Briley’s recovery was miraculous, but her grit and determination are even more remarkable. For Briley, success on an off the basketball court isn’t just about winning—it’s about finding courage to push through no matter what obstacles come your way.
Watch Briley's story here.
When Elliot plays with his Legos, he dreams of building tall towers and cities. He plays the piano and imagines performing in front of crowds. He may have started out small, but he knows he can do big things.
Elliot’s parents learned that there was a chance their son would be born premature at their 20-week ultrasound appointment. His mother underwent weekly ultrasounds until she was admitted to the hospital in Marshfield at 23 weeks. Knowing how crucial each week was, they kept hoping he would make it a little longer until he arrived. At exactly 25 weeks, Elliot was born weighing just 1 lb, 12 oz. Being extremely premature, he went on to spend 96 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
While in the hospital, Elliot worked hard to grow his lungs and get off the ventilator along with having laser eye surgery. He was so small that for the first few weeks, his father’s wedding band fit up to his shoulder. Throughout his time in the NICU, Elliot’s parents visited him daily. When they couldn’t be with him in person, NicView cameras made it possible for them to check on him anytime. Music Therapy also supported Elliot and his parents through his hospitalization, with Music Therapists helping them create special songs just for him based on his tiny but mighty personality and characteristics.
When Elliot was finally able to go home he still had to be closely monitored and receive oxygen. But with his parents’ care and expert help from the children’s hospital team, he was able to continue growing and developing.
Today Elliot has defied the odds and is a bright, happy and fun-loving kid. His parents have always told him that “A person’s a person, no matter how small” and that anything is possible when you believe in yourself.
Watch Elliot's story here.