Photo and Story by Eric Goodwin / Contributing Writer
The MTSU Children’s Miracle Network Raiderthon hosted a fundraiser Monday in the Keathley University Center to support the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Children directly impacted by the hospital attended to encourage people to donate.
One of the children handing out candy as part of the fundraiser was 7-year-old “miracle kid” Bayleigh Roche.
According to Bayleigh’s mother, April Roche, they did not know what was going on when Bayleigh was born. Her parents discovered after six weeks that Bayleigh could not suck, and what she did consume went to her lungs.
“We were killing her, and we didn’t even know it,” Roche said.
Luckily, doctors at Vanderbilt diagnosed the problem, and there was hope. The doctors said Bayleigh had Angelman Syndrome and autism. Angelman Syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that requires constant attention.
This constant attention, according to Roche, made Vanderbilt the family’s “second home.” She believes that is why it is so necessary that awareness should be spread through the Raiderthon.
“Bayleigh has had eight surgeries, and sometimes she can’t get out of the bed. And so they’ll bring toys for her to play with and books to read,” she said.
The money from the fundraiser goes to various programs in the hospital and towards building four new floors at the children’s hospital since “they stay at 100% capacity,” according to Roche. Donations are welcomed because around 1,500 children walk through emergency room doors each day, and “the hospital doesn’t turn anybody away.”
“It’s important for us because it’s our kids,” she said. “Our kids are alive today because of Vanderbilt.”
Chase Graham, another child impacted by the Children’s Miracle Network, was also wandering around the center, smiling and generously giving candy to students. When Chase was born, he was immediately put on ECMO, “which is the most aggressive form of life support,” according to his adoptive mother, Tonya Graham.
Chase tested positive for opiates, marijuana and cocaine, and contracted Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) soon after leaving the hospital. He was adopted at seven weeks old and has multiple respiratory and neurological disorders that require constant care.
“We’ve stayed at the hospital over 300 nights,” Graham said.
She also mentioned that they had stayed 4o nights in intensive care at the hospital.
“Without (the resources at Vanderbilt), I wouldn’t have him,” Graham said.
The fundraiser was part of a series of events promoting awareness about the Children’s Miracle Network. People wishing to do more than provide financial donations can attend the Dance Marathon on March 30 at 5 p.m. in the Campus Recreation Center. In that event, participants will take part in a variety of activities helping to raise money for the Children’s Hospital.
Roche said that getting college students involved in activities like the Dance Marathon is what makes the difference.
“You’re the next generation,” she said.
More information about the Raiderthon, Dance Marathon and the Children’s Miracle Network can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @MT_Raiderthon.
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