Palmetto Health Children's Hospital benefits from Children's Miracle Network

Published: Nov. 12, 2014 at 11:37 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Whether it's kicking off a race or dancing his heart out, Keldon Hemingway has made it his mission to tell others about Palmetto Health Children's Hospital and the Children's Miracle Network.

"I just tell them how well they've impacted my life. Basically I just say they've changed my life forever," he said.

Keldon has been in the hospital more times than he can count after doctors found a brain tumor when he was just 6 years old.

"When he was initially diagnosed we went once or twice a week, three times a week, which was a world—I had no idea how many children were sick. I had no idea this whole world exists," said Keldon's mother, Sheila.

It's a world where 62 children enter a Children's Miracle Network Hospital every minute -- children that Child Life Specialist Susan Shumpert sees every day.

"Our job is to normalize the environment for children who are being hospitalized or undergoing a treatment of some kind. So we do that in lots of ways," Shumpert said.

From music therapy, to therapy dogs, education programs for families and even the latest technology, Shumpert says funds that are raised through Palmetto Health Children's partnership with the Children's Miracle Network help make many programs and services possible.

"We really couldn't do our job without those extra funds," Shumpert said. "All these fun things we're able to offer, the programs we're able to offer would not be available without these extra funds that we get. They really make such a difference."

Palmetto Health Children's Hospital joined the CMN hospital network in 1985. CMN's mission is to increase funds and awareness for local children's hospitals. Just last year more than 300 local CMN partners helped raise $1.1 million for the hospital and its families.

"I know it's helped our family specifically – just even if nothing else the distraction these kids get while they're going through stuff that is super painful. I think it huge. It's huge," Courtney Tipping said.

Tipping's 4 year-old daughter Zoe has been fighting a Wilms' Tumor since April. She said people like Miss Susan and the services provided through Child Life have made left a lasting impact on their journey

"It's been crucial for us," Tipping said. "And to be honest it's really made me think about going back to school to do something similar...I can't say enough good things about the staff here, They are truly like family now…family that we didn't ask for but we're happy that we have."

Zoe recently completed what was supposed to be her last chemotherapy treatment.

From Zoe to Keldon, our South Carolina Champion, the reality is there are so many families in our Midlands community who are facing a similar battle every day. The hope is that through this national ambassador tour their stories will be heard and more people will understand the importance of the Children's Miracle Network Partnership.

Keldon and his family, as well as the 51 other champions are expected to arrive later Wednesday.

WIS News 10's Mary King is accompanying the Hemingways to Orlando, where he and the other CMN Champion Ambassadors from across the country are meeting. The Hemingways are expected to arrive in Orlando Wednesday evening.

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