I have waited so long to finally blog about this and am so excited to share some big news...
Will has been announced as the official Texas Ambassador Champion for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals!!!
It's huge! It's surreal & exciting & so very humbling... & a bit overwhelming!
We were shocked when the announcement was made in January. We didn't even know such a program existed. Will was nominated without our knowledge and even our family photographer (& dear friend, Olivia) kept it a secret when she submitted photos of Will. My mom kept it a secret when she filled in gaps on the form & submitted an essay... and the local CMN director kept it a secret that he was nominated!
In the 27 years our area has been a part of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Will is the FIRST kiddo ever chosen from this area!
So what is a Children's Miracle Network Hospital Champion Ambassador?
He's a spokesperson. He is chosen for "displaying courage in the face of unique medical circumstances."
When I read that I just sat and cried. Courage & Joshua 1:9 have been our theme for the last year as Will has faced some hard things. To honor him for showing courage just blew me away.
He has no idea how brave he is daily.
Will will have opportunities to tell others about the work CMN Hospitals do every day across our country.
(Did you know 62 children A MINUTE access a CMN service?)
He will get to hopefully visit some CMN Hospitals across Texas to encourage other kiddos and families and doctors.
Today, I was asked in a press conference what my hope would be for people meeting Will in this role.
I answered that Will breaks barriers every day. When people put up walls and try to stigimitize people with limb differences or disabilities, Will climbs over the walls or runs around them or tunnels under them to make a friend.
My hope is that in this role, he would have a bigger platform to continue breaking down barriers. I hope it will enable people to see him as just a typical kiddo and that in seeing him as a kid - instead of a diagnosis- they would tear down their own barriers they may have erected about people with differences. I hope people's eyes will be opened to seeing that there is great quality of life and celebration to living a life with differences. I hope people will see a kid who loves life and who can do all kinds of typical kid things and a family who loves their kid. I hope they will see beyond differences to see that we are a lot more alike than we are different.
When that same question was posed to Will, he said he would be able to "encourage kids who struggle."
Today, at a press conference (I know - that seems funny in relation to a 6 year old!), the Mayor declared it officially "Will Butts Day!"
Will asked me if he could do anything he wanted on his "holiday." I told him no.
I told him I didn't know anyone else with their own day and then he reminded me that Jesus has a day too - Christmas!
That gave me a good laugh.
Will's teacher, his school nurse, & the assistant principal all came to show him love and support and celebrate Will at the press conference.
Wow - it meant so much to me. In just 9 months I have come to LOVE the people that pour into kids every day at his school.
Ready for the press conference to begin. (Will & Ellie did ok throughout - they appeared a little bored at times but thankfully managed to stay quiet and in their chairs.)
Cookie & Lovie & Mimi all came!
Will & Mrs. Harden - his kindergarten teacher
Will & Rachel & Molly - nurses at the local Special Needs Clinic (completely funded by CMN and one of the few existing in the country! They serve over 500 kids (& their moms and dads!)
Will gave several tv interviews and did some radio recordings.
(If you are local, he'll be on the news tonight! If you live elsewhere in TX, CBS will be doing some sort of state wide story at some point in the future I think.)
Sweet friends from school came to support Will!
All of the neighbor kiddos he plays with daily came too!
Guess what else a CMN Hospitals Champion Ambassador gets to do?!?!?!
Travel to Washington DC in the fall and meet his Congressman, hang a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, participate in various activities around the Capitol, &
MEET THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!
I am so excited I can hardly stand it!
(As a former US History teacher I'm already drilling Will on Presidents, US history facts, & pets owned by each President. Did you know there have been hippos, lions, bears, tigers, & alligators in the White House!?!)
Will is really hoping he can meet Bo - the First Dog.
I however, am so humbled that my barrier breaking boy will have an opportunity to shake hands and visit with the first African American President - a man who broke a huge barrier.
The significance is not lost on me.
Someday, I think that will matter to Will too.
As if that's not enough for the WOW...
after hanging out in Washington and getting to know kids from each state (plus one from Puerto Rico & one from DC,)
we will fly on a chartered jet all together to DISNEY WORLD!!!
Apparently I need to subscribe to People magazine to catch up on pop culture because from what I'm told, there will be celebrities there CELEBRATING these champion kids are various ceremonies at Disney World!!!
(So to recap - in preparation, we are studying US History facts & People magazine.)
Does it get any more magical than this?!?!
I am so so so excited for Will to have these opportunities and can't wait to share more with you as we learn more about what being a TX Ambassador Champion means.
In the meantime - want to melt your heart?
Check out these two brief highlight videos for the 2012 & 2013 champions:
I cry every time I watch these videos - I can't wait to be a part of something that celebrates kids who show courage in the face of unique medical circumstances and an organization that fights to save lives and better lives and normalize lives for kiddos every single day.