People Helping (the Youngest) People

This entry was posted by Wednesday, 8 December, 2010
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Felicity Guerin

From Felicity Guerin:

I’m quite sure I have no way of capturing the medal ceremony at the Children’s Miracle Network annual “Celebration” in words.   

The day is full of contradictions:  amazing miracles and tragic deaths; stories of life and of loss; newfound hope and continued frustration.  Maybe the most staggering contradiction of all is the people. Frail, disabled, ill children full of vitality, excitement and pride, stand next to the healthy, successful, accomplished businessmen, visibly shaken by the realness of personal vulnerability, a lack of control and the fragility of life.   

The medal ceremony recognizes each of the 167 “Champions” from each of the Canadian provinces and each of the United States individually.   In theory, the presenters read each child’s name aloud, and the Champion walks on stage to the applause of over 1,000 spectators, shakes hands with the presenters, receives their medal and smiles brightly for the cameras.   This happens about half of the time.  Some of the Champion children are so excited, they miss the presenters altogether and literally run to be adorned with their medal.  Some turn cartwheels; some have crutches; some have wheelchairs.  All are beaming.

Some of the children, like the young lady from Hawaii, follow the process exactly as instructed. My memory of Arrianna is of a graceful, excited and happy young lady, smiling brightly for the camera…even though she relapsed a few short weeks earlier, and her brain cancer is back.  MacKenzie  wasn’t there.  The little girl who was Maryland’s Champion passed away a month before the event.  Her mother received the medal in her daughter’s stead – to a standing ovation. I will venture to guess there was not a dry eye in the audience.  But the most challenging medal winner for me to watch was the Champion from Kansas, a dear little girl named America.  I have never seen a child be so happy and try so hard to smile – but be too weak and exhausted to do so.   

 Another poignant contradiction was the heartbroken families who are full of gratitude.  “We’re the luckiest family here,” Those are the words of Sam, the Champion Child from Texas.   “They tell us that everyone thinks they’re the luckiest…but we actually are.”   What an amazing outlook.   He does not  complain about being dragged around to doctor after doctor while they were trying to diagnose him after waking up one day and not being able to feel his leg.  He doesn’t whine about the pain he still feels or the treatments he’s had to ensure.  There is no self-pity, impatience, jealousy or anger present in Sam’s stories about the time he spent at the Children’s Hospital.  This boy is simply thankful for every way the nurses and doctors help him.  I was moved. 

I am moved. 

The medal ceremony may be the most emotional event I have ever – or will ever – experience.   It was certainly not the saddest, nor was it the happiest; it was definitely the most confusing.  There were times I wasn’t sure if I was crying tears of joy or tears of sadness.  But I was crying.  And so was every other adult in the room.

In fact, I am still full of mixed emotions from the trip, but I choose to focus on the positive ones.  I’m proud to be part of an industry which embraces the people helping people philosophy by wholeheartedly supporting these children.   I am thankful I get to spend my days helping the credit union movement become even more involved in this wonderful cause.   I am excited to help us invite our members to join us in Credit Unions for Kids endeavors.  I am eager to share my experience with fellow credit union believers. 

Felicity Guerin is the Credit Unions for Kids Liaison for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.  For  more information about Credit Unions for Kids, Children’s Miracle Network and how you can get involved, please feel free to contact Felicity at 202.508.8758.

4 Responses to “People Helping (the Youngest) People”

  1. Welcome to CUNAverse Felicity! This was a great post on a really great cause for credit unions to be involved with. I definitely needed a tissue after reading. I would have loved to have been there in person. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    For those of you looking for another way to help Credit Unions for Kids – our friends at CU*Swag are donating 5% of their December sales to this amazing group. So check them out to buy some super fabulous credit union t-shirts

  2. The Children’s Miracle Network and Credit Unions for Kids are two more examples of the movement exemplifying “People Helping People.”

    Felicity, how can a credit union become active with Credit Unions for Kids?

  3. Thanks for sharing this truly amazing experience Felicity. And thanks to you Meghann for spreading the word about how is donating 5% of all December sells to CU 4 Kids. We are so excited that we are able to help give back and live the spirit of People Helping (the Youngest) People.

    For those interested, will be featured again on I Wear Your Shirt this Friday (12/10) so be sure to follow along as we spread credit union love and awareness for CU 4 Kids to all.

  4. Sasha Kemble

    Oh wow, Felicity. This sounds like such a profound experience. You have a way with words that helps others to experience this event as you do. Thank you for all that you do.

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