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SP O NSO R ED R E P O RT

S T O R I E S from the

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INSPIRING STORIES OF PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE The life-changing care Sacred Heart Health System provides has touched the hearts of many who strive to ensure that this incredible mission of care continues for future generations. Sacred Heart Foundation is proud to be a partner in this endeavor. Please enjoy these “Stories from the Heart.”

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A MESSAGE FROM CAROL CARLAN

Carol Carlan President, Sacred Heart Foundation

As 2019 draws to an end, I look back on what was an extraordinary year. To say it was a big year is an understatement by any measure. Because of you, our vision became reality on April 1st, when the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart celebrated its opening on the 50th Anniversary of its founding. And on the Emerald Coast, another vision was also realized with the completion of a bed expansion. So it is only appropriate that gratitude is the featured theme in this issue of “Stories from the Heart.” You will read how Katie Mitchell, at the age of 2, bravely fought pediatric cancer for five years. Her mom, Jamie, credits Sacred Heart for saving her life. Katie is now celebrating life loving school, singing and dancing, reading and playing outside. Just what a child should be doing! And you will read how Steve Clark serves as a Foundation board member as a way of giving thanks to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital that his daughters “literally owe their lives to.” They experienced first-hand that the NICU staff treated their daughters as if they were their own. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all who gave so generously to Sacred Heart Foundation over the past year. Your caring helped us carry out our mission of providing healthcare for the most vulnerable children and adults in our region. Every gift, every volunteer hour, made a difference to those we serve. On behalf of all of those served across the region, my deepest thanks! With a grateful heart, Carol Carlan

T Katie and Jamie Mitchell with Sprout the dog

KATIE MITCHELL A battle bravely fought 2

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Today Katie Mitchell is in a good place. Eight years old, she is in the third grade, and if you didn’t know what she has been through, you would never guess. In 2013, after exhibiting troubling signs of illness and then fainting, she was taken to a hospital close to home. The emergency room doctor entered with her blood work results and a troubled look on his face. He said, “I am so glad you guys came in here. Your daughter is in need of a blood transfusion. We need to transfer her to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital.” There, Katie was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where an oncologist confirmed the diagnosis. The family was shocked to learn she would require 2½ years of treatment. Following a month of inpatient chemotherapy, Katie went into remission and was able to return home. But six months later, she was back at Sacred Heart when her liver shut down due to one of the chemotherapies. Katie’s mother, Jamie, describes the experience her family underwent during Katie’s battle as “eye opening now that we have gone through it and seen what childhood cancer really is. I thought you got some chemo, lost your hair and you were good to go.” She feels that most people lack awareness, mostly because it is a subject that no

one wants to talk about. The years of treatment were also eye opening in the depth of their impact on the entire family. There was sadness, fear and lots of tears. The effect on Katie’s little body was scary and severe. She lost half her weight, her ability to walk and her voice. “There were times when she literally looked like a skeleton,” Jamie said. Jamie felt she had done something to cause her daughter’s illness, that she had somehow been irresponsible. But after talking with other parents, she learned that her feelings of guilt were a common reaction. Katie’s brother, Ryan, was emotionally affected as well. When he was in first grade, his class had a project about the growth of flowers. Each student was asked, “What makes you bloom and what makes you wilt?” Ryan answered, “I wilt when Katie is in the hospital. I bloom when Katie gets better.” Other kids wrote, “I bloom when I get a PlayStation. I wilt when I have to pick up my room.” Throughout Katie’s inpatient stay, the family continued to be grateful that treatment was available locally, and amazed at the depth of compassionate care given to their daughter. “I credit Sacred Heart with saving Katie’s life,” Jamie is quick to declare. The doctors would explain the treatment and prepare the family for

side effects. The nurses, who went above and beyond to spend time with Katie, would even play “tea party” with their tiny patient. “They were there late at night and really took care of us. They became family,” Jamie says. “Nurse Jessica was Katie’s favorite. She was just so loving.” She would share her extra pink stethoscope with her little patient and let her pretend to be a nurse. Today, Katie is cancer free. But she still has nightmares, and there are times when she suddenly remembers what she went through and is afraid it will recur. As for Jamie, she no longer trusts her “mommy meter” and tends to overreact at the slightest sign of illness in her daughter. But it has been a battle bravely fought, and Katie is celebrating life. She loves school, singing and dancing, reading, and playing outside. Jamie says, “Because of being isolated for a couple of years, she really enjoys social engagements, interacting and meeting people. Going to Walmart is still a big deal for her because she couldn’t go for so long.” Walmart would be gratified to learn that a part of their annual fundraising campaign to benefit the Studer Family Children’s Hospital has found its way to the bedside of a child like Katie.

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STEVE CLARK Giving thanks

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Steve Clark serves as a Sacred Heart Foundation board member as a way of giving thanks. He goes above and beyond to support the Children’s Hospital because both of his daughters “literally owe their lives to Sacred Heart.” Steve’s first daughter, Amy, would not have survived without his wife, Charleen, undergoing an emergency C-section when the infant went into acute distress during labor. Three years later, their second daughter, Caroline, was born premature at 31 weeks, weighing 3 pounds, 6 ounces. An isolette in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) sustained her while she gained weight. At that time, the Clarks had no local family and few resources. Charleen had little Amy to take care of at home, and their one vehicle was Steve’s transportation to work. Thus, circumstances dictated limited visits to the NICU. Yet they had no doubt that Caroline was being given the very best of care. They saw that the NICU staff treated their miniature patients as if they were their own children. Charleen describes their baby’s charge nurse Vanessa as “an absolute angel sent from God,” always attentive, keeping them up to date with reassurance. And she provided the personal touch that made it an incredible experience for them. For example, she called Charleen to tell her about the first time Caroline was allowed out of her isolette after being outfitted in a diaper and diaper shirt from the NICU’s clothes closet for preemies. But the infant fussed and wouldn’t settle down until they went back to the closet, selected the frilliest little dress they could find and put it on her, complete with a bow on her head made of handy wipes. Laughing, Vanessa told Charleen: “You are going to have your hands full!” Today, Caroline is a licensed clinical social worker for the Marine Corps at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Steve himself was an “Army brat raised all over the world” before earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health education at the University of South Carolina. For the past 23 years, Steve has owned and operated New School Selling, a business development and marketing firm in Navarre where he and Charleen reside. “It’s not that far from Pensacola, but it’s far enough that many people I run into don’t even know we have a Children’s Hospital, much less what it does.” As a board member, he seizes every opportunity to promote the hospital’s mission.

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B Charleen, Amy and Steve Clark

CAT COUNTRY 98.7 CARES FOR KIDS RADIOTHON

Because of you, our f irst-ever Cat Country 98.7 Cares for Kids Radiothon at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart was a huge success, raising $73,505 for the kids. All funds raised will support the construction of the Bear Family Foundation Pediatric Oncology Center of Hope, the region’s only pediatric oncology center, at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital. Participating radio stations included Cat Country 98.7, NewsRadio 92.3 and ESPN Pensacola 94.5. In addition, WEAR-TV 3’s Sue Straughn was on site to interview patients and families. Throughout the event, listeners heard stories of bravery and inspiration from children and families who have benef ited from the care and expertise of the hospital’s highly trained physicians and staff.

“We are just thrilled about Radiothon’s success this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the development of the pediatric oncology center at the hospital,” said Carol Carlan, president of Sacred Heart Foundation. “We are so grateful to the community for this amazing support of our community’s children and to our media partners for their compassionate hearts for children f ighting cancer.” Morning co-host Brent Lane said: “The mission of the Studer Family Children’s Hospital and the mission of Cat Country 98.7 are the same — to serve our local community. We like to be helpers and are proud to join Sacred Heart in helping kids and families right here in Cat Country.” Thank you to all who tuned in and supported our patients and families in the care of the Studer Family Children’s Hospital.

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25TH ANNUAL CORDOVA MALL BALL

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Laissez les bons temps rouler

Let the good times roll! Each year, we host the Cordova Mall Ball — an evening of celebration to raise funds and awareness for the Studer Family Children’s Hospital on Jan. 25, 2020. This 25th Anniversary event will include live music from three stages, featuring The Tommy Morse Band, Reunion Band and Starz; food tastings from more than 25 of the area’s top restaurants; a New Orleans-style French Market; and a lively silent auction. This annual event has helped us raise thousands of dollars in support of children, most recently the purchase of a

Lauren and Dan Browne

state-of-the-art pediatric CT scanner to make scans safer and less scary for our smallest patients. This year, we turn our attention to pediatric oncology, with the goal of constructing the all-new Bear Family Foundation Pediatric Oncology Center for Hope, which will treat young patients battling all types of cancer, from leukemia to brain tumors. Join us in sharing hope with the children who make our hospital home. Visit CordovaMallBall.com or call (850) 416-4661 to purchase your tickets or tables today.

LAUREN AND DAN BROWNE

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It’s all ‘Fun and Games’ at this fundraiser

In video games, it’s easy to get an extra life. But when it comes to sick and injured kids, there is a need for specialized doctors … and extra special hospitals. That’s why the Children’s Miracle Network launched Extra Life, a 24-hour gaming marathon dedicated to having fun while raising funds to “help heal local kids.” Dan Browne and his 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, played together during the Nov. 2 game-day event. This year marks Dan’s seventh and Lauren’s fifth time participating in the fundraiser, which her father says, “shows her how we can show compassion toward others.” Dan and Lauren choose to support Extra Life because it directly benefits children and their families. They want to promote awareness and involvement for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals

because they know the work can’t be done alone. Lauren was born with a rare brain tumor, and doctors said she had a 10% chance to live until her first birthday. After more than 25 surgeries, procedures and countless hospital stays, Dan says, “I know the weakness of a weary wanderer, exhausted and overwhelmed … I have learned as parents we don’t have to walk this alone.” “By the grace of God, Lauren continues to thrive,” says Dan. “It’s hard to look back on what Lauren has been through and not wish it to be different. However, everything she has faced has helped grow her into who she is today. It’s beautiful to see how God has worked in her life and continues to do so.” Thanks to the Children’s Miracle Network, Lauren has achieved new miracles.

Her feeding tube was removed at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart in 2015. More recently, she was able to have an important scan at UF Health Shands Hospital, which showed no changes to the remaining pieces of tumor. When Dan asked Lauren why it is important to raise funds and awareness for the Children’s Miracle Network, she replied, “Love God and love people.” The first year she showed an interest in gaming by Dad’s side, she said, “I want to help heal kids like me.” For this year’s tournament, Dan surprised Lauren with a new game. For our part, we know Lauren will keep surprising us with her incredible strength and spirit. Learn more about Extra Life at Extra-Life.org or call (850) 416-4665. Photos by Phocus Photography

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GULF WINDS CREDIT UNION We thank our friends at Gulf Winds Credit Union for going casual for the kids! Thank you for helping provide life-saving medical care to kids in the communities we serve by donating to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital, your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, by wearing jeans to work.

WALMART AND SAM’S CLUB ASSOCIATES

DESTIN CHARITY WINE AUCTION FOUNDATION We extend our thanks and gratitude to Destin Charity Wine Auction for their gift of $175,000 in support of our new Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast. Because of you, we are now able to provide care to our youngest patients along the Emerald Coast.

Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members throughout the Gulf Coast know how to put the fun in ‘fun’draising! Thank you for investing your money where the miracles are during the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fundraising campaign, benefitting the Studer Family Children’s Hospital. Funds were primarily raised through the stores’ register campaign, where customers and members contributed $1 or more at checkout. Through the collective impact of every donation, more than $200,000 was raised to help our local children and families live better. Thank you for being a difference maker!

ABOUT THE SACRED HEART FOUNDATION Since 1915, Sacred Heart Health System has been at the heart of healing for Northwest Florida and South Alabama. Like our founders, the Daughters of Charity, Sacred Heart is dedicated to providing quality, compassionate healthcare to the citizens of our regions, regardless of their ability to pay. This steadfast commitment to our community could not have been achieved without the support and generosity of the thousands of individuals, businesses and organizations that have donated to Sacred Heart Foundation. Through this charitable giving, Sacred Heart Foundation has been able to provide millions of dollars of free and low-cost healthcare to the poor, uninsured, under-insured and low-income families. With the help of generous donors, we are proud to partner in Sacred Heart’s mission of care along the Gulf Coast.

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