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Starla Chapman, center, stands with her family and friends at a celebration for her announcement as the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Alabama's Champion for 2014.
Starla Chapman, a former patient at USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, has been chosen as Alabama’s Champion for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for 2014.
As part of the honor, five-year-old Starla, father Korey, mother DeAndra, and little brother, K.J., will travel to Washington, D.C., and Orlando in November. Their itinerary includes meeting President Barack Obama and several days in Disney World.
In September 2011, a 2-year-old Starla was diagnosed with acute myeloblastic leukemia, a cancer originating in the bone marrow. Approximately 60 per cent of pediatric patients are cured, but only through aggressive chemotherapy with serious side effects. The treatment took a toll on Starla’s heart, and, while in CWH’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in January 2012, her heart stopped. She was resuscitated and put into a medically induced coma.
Gradually, she recovered, completed treatment and in April 2012 was pronounced cancer-free. Today, she is a healthy pre-kindergarten student at Bay Minette Elementary.
“Starla’s ordeal was very traumatic, but the entire hospital staff was so phenomenal,” says DeAndra Chapman. “They were there from the beginning of her journey and they’re still there if I need them today.”
Along this journey, Starla gained a famous fan in Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. McCarron met Starla during a visit to the hospital on Christmas Eve 2011and was given a yellow bracelet with the words, “Just Trust.” He famously wore the bracelet in the national championship and throughout the next season. Their special bond became the subject of national news stories and he was asked to be Starla’s godfather.
“Starla is an amazing little girl with such a special family. She has faced her challenges with a strong faith, solid determination, and the spirit of a champion. She represents everything a Champion Child should be,” says Owen Bailey, administrator of USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital.
The CMN Champion Child program honors remarkable children who are serving as children’s hospital ambassadors after facing severe medical challenges. The program designates one Champion per state, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is an international non-profit organization that raises funds for children's hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children's health issues. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4.7 billion—most of it $1 at a time—for 170 children’s hospitals across the United States and Canada.
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