published Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Erlanger honors Miracle Children

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press Sandra Willard, counter clockwise from center, watches as twins Rachel Seaton and Katie Seaton open the present they received Thursday while they were recognized as two of the seven Miracle Children at the Baroness Campus Medical Mall. Their presents consisted of nail art and fuzzy socks. The twins will help represent T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital for Erlanger during 2011.

Katie and Rachel Seaton smiled and laughed Thursday during the tree-lighting ceremony at Erlanger hospital, tickled at all the attention they were receiving.

"I love it," Rachel said. "It feels so good."

The 13-year-old twins from Cleveland, Tenn., who have cerebral palsy, were among seven young people from around the area selected to be Miracle Children for the hospital. The children will represent Erlanger throughout the year as part of the Children's Miracle Network.

"I'm very honored and excited to be a part of it," Katie said. "This is a wonderful hospital."

The girls' mother, Wendy Boggess, said the girls have had the same physical therapist the entire 11 years they have been coming to Erlanger.

"These people are just like family," Boggess said. "We've come a long way together."

Betsy Taylor, Erlanger Health System chief development officer, said the young patients at Erlanger are all inspirations.

"These kids have been through obstacles most adults couldn't face," Taylor said. "They face these challenges with a smile on their face and a sparkle in their eye."

Earlier this year, Heather Culberson, 17, of Rome, Ga., spent 38 days at Erlanger with severe pneumonia. Culberson is feeling good now, but her family said it is only because of the hospital staff.

"It was a long 38 days," said Tony Walls, Culberson's mother.

Although 16-year-old Sharon Hawkins, of Soddy-Daisy, has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, she said she has aspirations to be a model one day and the attention she is getting as one of the Miracle Children will help.

"It's amazing," Sharon said. "It's a nice opportunity to have."

Eighteen-month-old James Collis, of Dalton, Ga., and 10-month-old Dallas Lightfoot, of Chattanooga, were both born several weeks premature and spent time at the neonatal intensive care unit of Erlanger.

James is a happy little boy, even after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy in February. His mother, Brandi Collis, said while physicians have said he may not walk, he already has taken his first steps.

Orlando Lightfoot, Dallas' father, said his son weighed a little more than 2 pounds when he was born. Now he is a healthy little boy.

"I can't say enough about the [neonatal intensive care unit]," Lightfoot said. "They were angels from the first day."

After the children were announced Thursday, they helped Erlanger CEO Jim Brexler light the Christmas tree at the hospital's medical mall, ringing in the holiday season.

Kennedy Elizabeth Griffith, 14, of Jasper, Tenn., also was selected to be among the Miracle Children but was unable to attend the event Thursday.



MIRACLE CHILDREN

James Collis

* Age: 18 months

* Prematurely born at 28 weeks, has cerebral palsy

* Dalton, Ga.

Heather Culberson

* Age: 17

* Severe pneumonia

* Rome, Ga.

Kennedy Griffith

* Age: 14

* Osteogenic sarcoma

* Jasper, Tenn.

Sharon Hawkins

* Age: 16

* Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

* Soddy-Daisy

Dallas Lightfoot

* Age: 10 months

* Prematurely born at 30 weeks

* Chattanooga

Katie and Rachel Seaton

* Age: 13

* Born 27 weeks early with cerebral palsy

* Cleveland, Tenn.

Source: Erlanger Health System

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