Guest Post: My Day with a Champion

Today's post is by Kaitlin McMurry, public relations specialist at RE/MAX World Headquarters. Kaitlin was one of several RE/MAX ambassadors that attended Momentum, the annual conference for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in late March.

I couldn't have been more excited to be invited to attend Momentum 2017, the annual Children's Miracle Network Hospitals conference, at the end of March in Orlando. This year RE/MAX is celebrating 25 years of supporting CMN Hospitals, and I knew the conference would be an excellent opportunity to see firsthand the impact RE/MAX Affiliates have made with their donations. Since 1992, RE/MAX agents and brokers have donated $157 million to the 170 CMN Hospitals. Each donation helps fund pediatric medical equipment, treatments, charitable care and other healthcare services.

As an ambassador for RE/MAX, I had the opportunity to spend a day at Disney's Epcot Theme Park with Colorado CMNH Hospitals Champion, Carson, and his family. Born premature at 25 weeks and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was 13-months old, the nine-year-old has been a life-long patient of Children's Hospital Colorado. He's undergone multiple surgeries, although you'd never know it because he always has a smile on his face and is the most fearless, friendly and outgoing kid I've ever met.

Carson was excited to go to Epcot and eager to spend the day with his family, RE/MAX LLC Senior Vice President Mike Reagan, and myself. According to Carson, the two things we had to do while we were at the park were get ice cream and ride "Soarin'."

Our first stop of the day was "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" ride. Carson made sure to get a picture with Bruce the shark (famous for the quote "fish are friends, not food") because when a nine-year-old has the opportunity to take a photo with a shark, he takes it.

RE/MAX Senior Vice President Mike Reagan, Carson and his brother Tanner pose with a shark at Epcot Theme ParkSenior Vice President Mike Reagan, Carson and his brother Tanner pose with a shark at Epcot Theme Park

Next up – attempting to avoid the rain while reading the park map to decide which ride to go on next. Carson and his brother Tanner decided to go on "Test Track." The brothers thought this ride was "so cool" as they were able to design their own test cars before going on the ride. Carson kept looking to his older brother for guidance; he wanted a car that was just as fast (and stylish) as Tanner's. Once we hopped on the ride, our car was filled with giggles and delighted screams as it made its way around the race track.

Carson builds a car for the Test Track ride at Epcot Theme Park Carson builds a car for the Test Track ride at Epcot Theme Park

After refueling our own engines with some Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream sandwiches, it was finally time for Carson's favorite ride, "Soarin'." The ride simulates paragliding over famous landmarks around the world, such as the Great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House.

As we were standing in line, Carson's mom, Jennifer, told me more about Carson's story. The number of hours spent at the hospital, the number of surgeries, the number of doctor appointments and checkups he's been to – none of it would be possible without the support of his family. Hearing her story and learning about Carson's experience gave me an appreciation for everything his family has been through. It also gave me an even greater appreciation for the incredible work that Children's Miracle Network Hospitals do for kids. Behind every miracle are amazing doctors and staff members who do everything they can to help these kids and give them another shot at life.

My experience with Carson and the other Champion kids will always inspire me as I continue to work on RE/MAX initiatives that support CMN Hospitals. Everyone has a Carson in their life – a kid faces adversity with more courage (and more positivity) than most adults. It's great to know that every dollar donated by a RE/MAX Affiliate goes directly to kids just like Carson.

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