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SP O NSO R ED R E P O RT

S T O R I E S from the

HEART

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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STORIES from the

HEART

Miles Wright (left) with California professional paintball team

MILES WRIGHT

“My cancer helped me appreciate the small things.” 2

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Miles Wright was 15 years old when he started to feel a little off. After headaches and nosebleeds turned into a 20-pound weight loss over two weeks, Miles went to see his doctor. The high school freshman was told it was just “growing pains.” Unconvinced, Miles finally had a blood test. In the summer of 2012, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Born and raised in Pensacola, Miles received treatments from the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart — a blessing to his tight-knit family, who took turns staying by his side as he navigated those difficult days. His story inspired a “Be the Match” campaign that brought thousands of people out to check their donor status. But Miles ultimately received his cord blood transplant from a match in Australia. (For laughs, he says he worked on his accent for a while.) “I try to be as laid back as possible because of my experiences with leukemia,” he said. “It is definitely a good thing to enjoy the smaller things and not take those things for granted because you never know when you won’t have them.” Being close to home meant Miles’ friends and classmates could visit him after school. In fact, many would walk from nearby Booker T. Washington High School to spend time playing video games, like nothing had changed. “It’s one thing when people say they’re going to come and see you, but when they actually come and spend the better part of their day with you, that speaks volumes,” he says. “Some of them would skip their track meets just to come hang out with me on weekends. That meant the world to me.” While in the hospital for up to a month at a time, Miles also made friends on the floor. His doctors and nurses checked up on him regularly while giving him space to be a normal kid. Miles says it was incredible to have the hospital in his hometown because his family could be right there with him. “My mom stayed there every night. I would wake up and my grandparents would be there before she even left. My

aunt and uncle came on the weekends to give my mom some reprieve,” he explains. “It felt like nothing changed. Nothing felt new or out of place because we are all so close.” The Children’s Hospital is in the process of building a new Oncology Center for Hope, where 50 percent of the space will be dedicated to patient families, with a gym and laundry facilities planned. Miles says the extra amenities will certainly be beneficial to families who want to be there while their kids get well. “It’s going to seem really scary,” he says. “But I also have that mentality that if it’s something I’ve got to get through, let’s just get through it as best as we possibly can.” Miles got through not one, but two bouts with cancer, and today he is five years out from his initial diagnosis. He graduated on time from high school, then took his best friend on a trip of lifetime when the Make a Wish Foundation granted Miles’ wish to play paintball with a pro team in California. He is currently in the process of earning a degree in graphic design from Pensacola State College. More than 12,000 people have contributed to the new Children’s Hospital. To that, Miles says: “Thank you. People feel like their pennies don’t go a long way, but as you can see, when you get enough people together, then pennies go a very, very long way. This isn’t only going to help the children take their minds off of things and play games, this is also going to go toward research and new technologies, so the doctors can get their jobs done quicker and maybe even curtail the side effects of chemo treatment.” Now 22 years old and no stranger to adversity, this young man has a beautiful outlook on his future. “Anything can happen in life, you just try to make the best of it however you can,” he says. “When I got out of the hospital for the first time, I really noticed all the small things. Life moves very, very fast. Just enjoy it.”

A MESSAGE FROM CAROL CARLAN Sacred Heart Foundation is a reflection of the community it serves. Our community on the Gulf Coast is not only known for its beautiful beaches and emerald waters but also for the beauty in the hearts of those who care deeply and give so generously to ensure that we all have access to the highest level of healthcare available. One of those beautiful, caring hearts belongs to 17-year old Kendall Frazee, who is leading a fundraiser, Hello Before Goodbye, to provide bereavement boxes for a year to the Ascension Sacred Heart Women’s and Maternity Center in Pensacola. These boxes contain memories and mementos providing peace and comfort to families during their time of greatest need. You will also read about donor and board members Stephen T. Holman and Justin T. Holman, who are grateful for the “incredible opportunity to give back to the community” by supporting the Studer Family Children’s Hospital. And then there are our former patients like Miles Wright, who bravely fought two bouts with cancer. Now five years out from his initial diagnosis, he teaches others to “really notice all the small things. Life moves very, very fast. Just enjoy it!” These are just a few of the individuals who care deeply and give generously to the patients, families and communities we serve. Thank you for bestowing your treasures of time and resources upon us to help make a difference in the lives of our patients. We are grateful and thankful for your generosity and devotion. With a grateful heart, Carol Carlan

Carol Carlan President, Sacred Heart Foundation

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STORIES from the

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Stephen and Justin Holman

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THE HOLMAN LAW FIRM Advocates for the children

The Holman Law Firm, which is the father and son team of Stephen T. and Justin T. Holman, is dedicated to the principle that “The BEST parent is BOTH parents.” As experienced litigators who choose to be primarily involved in family law cases, their firm concentrates on outcomes that ensure children are able to interact with both mother and father. At one time, it was customary that the mother was automatically granted custody, but this is no longer the norm. Stephen, an attorney for 32 years, says people tend to think that The Holman Law Firm mainly represents fathers, “but that is generally because when I first started doing this, fathers didn’t think they had a voice. However, after years of fighting for equality, it’s pretty common that fathers have equal rights except in extenuating circumstances. Children deserve and should have access to both parents, whether or not they are married.”

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Justin’s commitment to the legal profession got its start with his experiences as a youngster. He was often present in a corner of the courtroom watching his dad when he was so small that his feet barely touched the floor. Witnessing the gratitude expressed by a parent when a case was settled equitably was a compelling influence on him. So it is understandable that today, like his father, Justin is committed to “helping parents.” He explains, “When there’s children involved, no monetary verdict you can get for a parent compares to knowing their children will be forever involved in their life. That type of reward and seeing that in a parents’ eyes … that’s what I have a passion for.” Stephen adds, “Winning a case where someone is trying to keep a child out of someone’s life and you prevent that and keep both parents in the picture … it’s the equivalent of hitting a game-winning grand slam.”

Both father and son are strong supporters of the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart and its far-reaching impact on the community. Stephen points out that when families consider moving to Pensacola, one of the first things they inquire about is healthcare for their children. The Children’s Hospital is a strong endorsement for families moving to the Pensacola area, thus contributing to the economic growth of the area. Justin, who serves on the Sacred Heart Foundation board, views his participation as an “incredible opportunity to give back to the community.” He is keenly aware that parents are grateful for the peace of mind the new Children’s Hospital gives. When their child needs the very best healthcare, they know that world-class doctors are available in their very own back yard, thus eliminating the burden of traveling outside the area.


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The Frazee family

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KENDALL FRAZEE

Helping families heal after pregnancy and infant loss

Kendall Frazee was only 3 years old when her mother suffered a miscarriage. She lost a brother she would never meet, but Jackson lives on through his sister’s good work. A junior in Pensacola High School’s International Baccalaureate program, Kendall is making her mark at age 17. In addition to her intense academic studies, membership in NHS, SNHS, Math Club, Key Club and youth group (to name a few) — while casually learning “Canon in D” on her acoustic guitar — she founded “Goodbye Before Hello,” a service project for pregnancy and infant loss awareness. “I had to complete an extended service project that would in some way contribute to my community, as part of how we’re taught to see the world,” Kendall says. “We can make an impact.” And she has. After going through miscarriage as a sibling, Kendall wanted to bring light to a topic many people avoid talking about as a way to support her community. Going beyond what was required for her

school project, her goal is to raise $12,000 to cover the cost of one year of bereavement boxes for Ascension Sacred Heart. The boxes are filled with hand and foot molds and stamps, photographs, baby blankets or clothes — to be opened in a family’s own time as part of the grieving process. Kendall raised much of the money through traditional fundraisers before finding a partner in a local cross maker, who felt called to auction three of their handcrafted crosses in support of this special cause. Two of the buyers had suffered their own losses and considered their contributions healing. “We don’t have anything except one clear ultrasound picture,” Kendall says. “When my mom lost the baby at almost 17 weeks, we didn’t go home with anything.” The Frazees planted a tree in their backyard, along with an angel statue and a plaque. In all of her preschool paintings, Kendall’s mom says she always showed Jackson as an angel, out of line with the rest of the family, but with them from above.

One in four women have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss. “I want people to see that it’s not something we can avoid. It’s going to happen because God has a plan, and these things are not avoidable,” Kendall says. “Keeping quiet about it doesn’t help. The best way to heal and to grieve as a community is to talk about it.” The family has since welcomed a son, Carter. If Kendall was the sunshine baby and Jackson a teardrop, Carter is their rainbow. Accompanying Carter to an OT appointment for a condition that affects his eyesight, Kendall was fascinated by the human eye. She hopes to go into biomedical engineering, specializing in craniofacial prosthesis with an emphasis on eyes. But as this bright young woman has taught us all, it is with the heart we see most clearly. To learn more about Kendall’s project and how you can help, please visit Facebook.com/GoodbyeBeforeHello.

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STORIES from the

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LOGAN ALLEN

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Our Smallest Miracle

At six months pregnant, Talisa Jackson was faced with every expectant mother’s worst nightmare. Following an excruciating night of pain and spotting, Jackson, who lives in Century, Florida, was informed that she was miscarrying her baby girl, and there was nothing her doctors could do for her. Jackson was rushed to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola, where she underwent an emergency cesarean section. Upon waking, Jackson was in for two surprises. Though premature, her baby was very much alive. And she had a boy. On Jan. 26, 2019, at just 24 weeks, Omaurian “Logan” Allen was born at 12 ounces and 10 inches long. He is likely the smallest surviving baby in Sacred Heart’s 104-year history. “When I woke up three days later and got to see him for the f irst time, I cried,” said Jackson. “He was so little and surrounded by all these tubes. I remember thinking, ‘Why me?’” Doctors prepared Jackson for the worst, but she said, “Do everything you can for my baby, because I’m not giving up on him.” For the next five months, neither would the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart. After being on and off ventilators and enduring countless surgeries and skin grafts, baby Logan was deemed healthy enough to go home in June. “We had two episodes where Logan died on us and stopped breathing,” Jackson said. “For a while, I went into a depression. I blamed myself because I had pre-eclampsia.” But Children’s Hospital doctors helped her realize that preeclampsia, a type of pregnancy complication influenced by high-blood pressure, was common and beyond her control. Jackson said she met some “amazing people” while bonding with other NICU mothers and nurses, forming a unique support system that helped her through the darkest days. “I love my nurses,” she said. “If I was busy with my other two girls at home, they would reassure me that they had Logan, and he wasn’t going anywhere. If they ever thought something might be wrong when I came to see Logan, they would ask if I needed to talk. They became my family. They went through this with me, and I was never alone.” When the new Children’s Hospital opened on May 4, Jackson and Logan were transferred from Sacred Heart’s old

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Logan Allen and mom, Talisa

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to the new Level III NICU, where each family receives their own private room. There, Jackson was able to enjoy more solitude and peace with her son and learn all about his “big” personality. “You’ve got to be on time with that bottle, or he’s going to let you have it” Jackson laughed. “He may be little, but he’s loud. He knows he has his nurses and mom wrapped around his f inger.” But when he quiets down, gazes into his mother’s loving eyes, Jackson is steadfast with their mantra. “Every night, I tell him he’s my champion,” she said. “I tell him, ‘You are strong. You are smart. You’re a soldier, you’re victorious, you’re my miracle.’” Jackson promises Logan he will grow up to be successful, able to do anything and everything he could want. “As soon as I start telling him, he looks up with a smile because he knows.”


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MaRCH 28, 2020

6:00 p.m.

Hilton sandestin

Dinner

Live Music

Dancing

Join us as we honor

Roger Hall, President

Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast for his service and commitment to our community.

All proceeds benefit the expansion of the Cardiac and Spine Programs at Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast For tickets and more information: www.sacredheartemeraldball.com

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STORIES from the

HEART

PREEMIE CUP

Twenty-one years ago, Preemie Cup started with a mom’s desire to give back to the NICU that saved her daughter’s life. Today, the event has grown to include a sailing regatta, stand-up paddleboard relay, fishing tournament and silent auction raising over $88,000. All proceeds benefit children in the care of the Level II and Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart.

CHARITY GOLF CLASSIC Thanks to the community’s generosity and love for the game of golf, 112 golfers teed up at Burnt Pine Golf Club during the 18th Annual Sacred Heart Charity Golf Classic. Presented by Howard Group, Silver Sands Outlets, Grand Boulevard and St. Joe Community Foundation, the tournament successfully generated over $138,000 for Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast.

DESTIN CHARITY WINE AUCTION FOUNDATION We thank the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation for their continued support of the new Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast. Because of you and others in our community, our children have a top-ranked hospital in their time of need, and their families have the peace of mind knowing that their precious children or grandchildren are in the best hands.

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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Feb_March - Stories from the Heart  

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