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Previous Avera Children's Champions


Congratulations Drake! Drake is a ten year-old boy who is very deserving of being the Avera Children’s Champion. Drake and his grandmother were on their way to the carnival to play some games when they were unfortunately involved in an accident. Drake was brought to Avera Children’s PICU by helicopter.

Throughout Drake’s two and half week stay, he spent several days in the PICU recovering from his injuries. Pediatric RN stated, “Even when Drake was intubated, he was cooperative and followed our directions. He is an incredibly brave boy for all he had been through.” Throughout all his treatments, surgeries and dressing changes he always was polite to staff and kept a positive attitude. He worked hard to gain his strength (physically and mentally) along with his mobility back.

After a week in the PICU, he was able to transfer to the Pediatric floor where he enjoyed playing the Wii game: “Are You Smarter than A 5th Grader” with family, and taking walks to the playroom. Even though at times the days were rough and full of emotions, with support from Avera staff and Drake’s family he was well informed with what to expect with each stage of recovery. Drake was always full of new ideas and ways to help the nurses with repositioning and dressing changes. Drake always would ask “What can I do to go home faster.” Drake has overcome a lot throughout his hospitalization and is on his way to a speedy recovery! We couldn’t be more proud of you, Drake! Congratulations on becoming our Avera Children’s Champ!!


We would like everyone to meet our friend Anthony, the four year old boy who is the latest Avera Children’s Champion. He was admitted to Pediatric ICU after having surgery.

Anthony always faces his pokes, X-rays, and other procedures with bravery. He has formed many meaningful relationships with staff at the hospital and never stops amazing everyone with his improvements and achieved milestones throughout his stays.

Child Life helped Anthony meet his walking, eating, and drinking goals by creating individualized sticker charts to suit his needs. He loves being able to pick out which stickers he wanted following each accomplishment. Other activities he  enjoys are playing Memory, cooking with the play kitchen, using the toy tools to fix other toys in the playroom, playing Play doh, getting messy with syringe painting, and going for wagon rides.

To say it simply, Anthony never gives up. His strength and persistence have been beneficial in his recovery, and everyone loves seeing his blue eyes light up and his contagious smile. He is always willing to help nurses out when he has the opportunity and never turns down the chance to spend time with Child Life staff. Anthony’s bravery, positivity, and perseverance are why he has been named Avera Children’s Champion. Congratulations, Anthony! Keep up the great work!


A BIG congratulations goes out to six year old Peyton as the new Avera Children’s Champion. He was admitted to the Pediatric ICU following a motor vehicle accident which left him with numerous injuries including a broken leg, limiting his ability to move. Peyton was intubated for a long period of time before he began using a bipap, but learned how to communicate when given choices and pushed through his various frustrations with strength and perseverance.

Peyton has shown incredible bravery throughout his stay and melts everyone’s hearts when he flashes a smile. Many people come out of Peyton’s room a whole lot smarter because he has a love for sharks and teaches them new facts about them each time he reads and works on his shark activity book. He also gets a kick out of staff singing and dancing to the movie Frozen anytime he watches it.

It’s safe to say that Peyton has definitely been through some serious ups and downs during his time at Avera Children’s but his strength and bravery have not gone unnoticed. Congratulations on being named Avera Children’s Champion of the month, Peyton! We are proud of you!

Madison (Madi)

Congratulations to Madison (Madi) for becoming our newest Avera Children's Champion. Madi came to Avera Children's Pediatric Unit with abdominal pain. After several tests and procedures, it was discovered that Madi's appendix had ruptured along with some other issues. During Madi's hospitalization, she had to be poked numerous times for labs and IV's, several trips for CT scans & x-rays and even a major surgery. Never once did she complain.

She always followed the nurse's directions when asked to do something. She is a bright young girl with an amazing smile and the cutest freckles. Madi was encouraged to complete several walks throughout the hospitalization while receiving prizes after meeting her walking goals. She had a great attitude and showed great strength during her recovery process. She also enjoyed spending time with the Child Life Specialists in the playroom as she completed therapeutic activities such as syringe painting and shaving cream painting with a friend. Madi has been a great patient to care for and we are excited to have her as one of our Avera Champions!


Congratulations Elliot on becoming the newest member of Avera Children’s Champion! Elliot came to Avera Children’s ICU with pneumonia & RSV. Elliot spent a total of 20 days with us fighting for us life and had undergone a variety of tests, and procedures. Elliot was a very brave boy!

Lanny, RT Manager stated, "He never complained about wearing his 'jet pilot' mask and was the ideal pediatric patient. He was a trooper with all his procedures and tolerated everything with grace. What an awesome little boy!"

Elliot had so many different ups and downs but he fought through them doing everything he needed to do in order to get better and go home. He had amazing family support and we all truly enjoyed taking care of Elliot. He loved playing with his new train set and throwing the basketball. Congrats again from Avera Children’s!


Maxton came to Avera Children’s on December 2. Maxton spent a total of two and half weeks with us in the Pediatric ICU and Pediatrics undergoing a variety of tests and procedures for his seizure activity. Maxton was a very brave boy! He was a strong fighter during many procedures and made sure to test his nurse’s strength every day while wrestling with them.

Maxton could be seen smiling and waving to the staff, always ready to give a 'fist bump' to anyone in the hallway! He had amazing family support and we all truly enjoyed taking care of him. He is such a happy go lucky little boy. Maxton loved wagon rides, playing with his John Deere tractor and playing catch, he always made us laugh. Congrats again from Avera Children’s! We sure hope you are enjoying your new yellow dump truck!


OliviaCongratulations to Olivia on becoming Avera Children’s Champion! Olivia was admitted to the Pediatric ICU for asthma exacerbation which required close monitoring and continuous nebs. Olivia displayed bravery and always had an awesome attitude during her entire hospitalization. She was always kind to her nurses and showed a positive attitude when asked to do something. She was very cooperative, always willing to try new things that helped her get better and back on her feet.

By day 2 of being in the PICU she was literally back on her feet enjoying a game of Wii. After all the tests, nebs, and close monitoring she was feeling more herself and enjoying her hospitalization with games, crafts and Wii. Even though she started to feel better she came to the PICU with a hard time breathing due to her asthma. She was willing to try different respiratory techniques to improve her breathing abilities even if things weren’t that comfortable. She always had an amazing and positive bubbly attitude during the entire stay. Olivia is a very courageous, smart and gorgeous young girl inside and out. You are a true Champ! Congrats, you deserve it!


Congratulations to Claire on becoming Avera Children’s Champion. Claire is a sweet little four year-old who was admitted to our Pediatric ICU after being involved in a bike accident. Cassy, RN said "Claire or 'Claire Bear' was a brave little girl who experienced such an unimaginable circumstance as a child. She was so strong and brave during her stay at Avera Children’s." She became a favorite by many nursing staff and Child Life Specialists as she was a true fighter during her two week recovery time. Even during those though times, she would always do what the nursing staff asked her to do.

She loved to eat her meals on the outside deck inside the little playhouse, picnics were a must! Claire was surrounded by an amazing support system of family and friends who loved her. They enjoyed watching Claire do shaving cream painting, snuggled with the dogs at pet therapy and go on numerous wagon rides. Throughout her stay she got stronger, faster, and had to overcome mixed emotions. A staff member from Avera Children’s said "When we saw how you reacted the first time you saw your little sister visit, we instantly knew what an amazing big sister you are." Nicole, RN.

Claire, you showed so much strength, determination and you truly are a Champion! You are a very special little girl. Congrats to you and your family.


Congratulations Howie for being named Avera Children’s Champion. Howie’s a seven-year-old boy who came to Avera Children’s as an outpatient for a procedure with, Dr. Nanton our Pediatric Gastroenterologist. After the results of his procedure, Dr. Nanton wanted to start Howie on different medications along with resting his tummy. He was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.

Howie was thinking he would only have to be here for an outpatient procedure and ended up staying at Avera Children’s for two weeks. Howie displayed bravery along with an amazing attitude throughout his hospitalization even when he had to rest his tummy and couldn’t eat his favorite goodies. Howie would use his IV pole like a scooter and push it down the hall. He made his stay fun and joy able as best as he could by stating his medications were his “mountain dew & milk.”

Howie was always so cheerful to staff and loved playing games and going to the pond to see the ducks. He liked having his temp taken between his two missing front teeth. Silly Howie! Howie never once complained about being in the hospital or missing his last day of school or not having anything to eat. Howie had a great support system with his parents and brother, along with many family and friends who would come visit. Congrats Howie!! You made our lives brighter each day with your silly jokes and smiles!


Wyatt is a little 8 month old boy who came to Avera Children’s with high fevers and was quickly diagnosed with meningitis and RSV. Wyatt’s first visit to Avera was for a total of eight days then was discharged after receiving his treatments. Shortly after being discharged from the hospital he returned to Avera for another four days. This was very stressful on Wyatt and his parents. During his hospital stay Wyatt endured numerous IV attempts and lab draws, x-rays and ultrasounds, along with receiving a PICC line. Wyatt was always a happy little boy with a big smile. He loved to play with toys and rattles and bounce away in the bouncy seat. Going through all the pokes and procedures that Wyatt had to go through, he continued to have his contagious smile and twinkling eyes even on sad days.

After his second discharge from the hospital he came for follow up appointments which led to yet another admission and more procedures. Jami, RN at Avera Children’s states, "Wyatt has endured more in his eight months of life than most people do in their lifetime. He truly is a champion." Wyatt also received a huge honor of being named one of our four "Little Grapes" for Avera Children’s annual fundraiser the Big Grape for the year 2015. Way to go Wyatt!!


EveCongratulations to Eve on becoming Avera Children’s Champion. Eve is a 6 year old little girl who was recently adopted from Liberia into a loving family. While living in Liberia, Eve was hospitalized due to an incident which led her to become very sick. Shortly after coming to the United States, Eve came to Avera Children’s to receive medical treatment each week as an outpatient for multiple tests, scans, and procedures. Child Life Specialists have been able to provide a trusting relationship with Eve while being present for each test.

Each procedure has had its challenges but Eve has shown how brave and strong she is. Each time Eve has come for a procedure, Child Life educated her so she understood the step-by-step process; now she is showing the Child Life Specialist how it’s done! As Eve waits for procedures she loves to play the ‘cupcake’ game on the I-pad and play with the Child Life Specialists. Leah, Certified Child Life Specialist states, "Hands down, Eve is the bravest and most strong willed little girl that I have ever met. It’s been a privilege to be able to make a special connection with Eve and her family each time they come." Eve has been through a lot in her life. But with loving parents and siblings supporting her at home she has taken great strides. Her big smile and giggles will make anyone’s day just a little bit better. Congratulations Eve - you're a Rock Star!!


Avera Children's ChampionMiss Harper came to Avera Children’s for an outpatient procedure. With a change in plans she ended up having to stay for a week in the Pediatric Unit/PICU. Harper displayed her bravery and great attitude during her hospitalization by staying strong and letting the nurses help her feel better. She showed a sense of calm when changing her neck dressing after the nurse turned the dressing into a pretty necklace. Very fashionable! During Harper’s stay she loved playing in the playroom, doing craft projects, puzzles, games, and many more activities. Her favorite game was Don’t Spill the Beans! Harper was quiet but was always kind to everyone she encountered, despite the difficult and unexpected obstacles from prior days. She was very brave while showing her determination throughout her hospitalization. Harper loved her stuffed animals especially her new pink turtle from her big brother. Congrats Harper on becoming Avera Children’s Champ!!! Way to GO!!!


avera Children's championBrody is the cutest four year-old you will ever meet. Brody came to Avera Children’s for abdominal pain on April 1 then off to surgery for an appendectomy. The first night of post-op Brody said to his parents at 11:30pm, "Should we go for one more walk before bed." Brody kept true to his statement because the doctor told him he needed to walk, walk, walk. Throughout Brody hospitalization, he was doubling his walking goals each day. Brody was discharged after spending a week on Pediatrics, but after celebrating his birthday four days later he began to have a stomach ache again. He returned to Avera Children’s with increased abdominal pain along with another surgery. His second hospitalization he became very spoiled by staff while spending a little over a week at Avera.

Jaclyn, RN stated "During Brody’s second stay at Avera he showed us how brave he truly is. The nursing staff asked a lot out of him with all the tasks he had to complete to get better. He did everything we had asked plus more without complaining." All the staff on Pediatrics cheered Brody on after each lap or getting a chance to eat some Cheetos after not being able to eat for a week. Kim, HUC stated "Brody is the bravest four year-old I know, Brody never once complained when he had to complete all his walks, tests, or procedures such as a CAT scan. During Brody’s CAT scan he held so still, keeping his arms up high while holding his dad’s hand. He displayed a great amount of bravery with a smiling attitude." Brody always said thank you to staff even when he wasn’t feeling the best. Once Brody started to feel better he did medical play with the Child Life Specialists and puzzles, painting cars, and syringe painting with his brother and every now and then he would request a CAT scan to see pictures of his tummy. Way to go Brody—you are a true Champion!


Avera Children's Champion

Miss Chloe is an adorable little two year old who has a lot of spunk and always has a smile. Chloe 'April Fooled' her family when she decided to come into the world a little earlier than planned. Chloe spent several months in the NICU before graduating to Pediatrics. She has been hospitalized for a variety of illnesses and has become one of our favorite little girls to care for.

Chloe's most recent visit to Avera Children's was spent in PICU for a little over a week and half for respiratory issues. Unfortunately her visit coincided with two special celebrations – Easter and her second birthday. Chloe has displayed a great amount of bravery with a smiling attitude during this hospitalization along with her many other surgeries, procedures, and intubations. Chloe loves attention and is always playful with the staff.

Chloe has been a fighter ever since she 'April Fooled' her family two years ago and never gives up. Amy, Pediatric RN states, "Chloe has a bubbly personality and is a joy to care for. She makes everyone smile when they enter her room. Chloe is truly a champion."


Chelsea - Avera Children's ChampChelsea has been to Avera Children’s several times for procedures, overnight stays and follow-ups. This admission Chelsea had to stay longer than two weeks to help her stomach feel better.

Chelsea has not only worked on getting better but she also worked on homework while staying with us. Chelsea has been such a trooper and a good sport throughout all the ups & downs of being in the hospital; she even got to make a "move" to a new room… closer to the playroom. Her doctor writes, "You have done very well, I am proud of you." Way to go Chelsea, we are all proud of you, Congratulations.


Avera Children's ChampionAndrew was rushed to Avera Children’s after an accident at home. Andrew had to be taken into surgery right away and recovered in the Pediatric ICU for four days. His bravery and courage was amazing to see during his stay in the PICU. He always had a smile on his face and was very polite. He never once complained about having to take his daily walks or have his dressings changed. He is a true champion! Way to go Andrew!


avera children's championKaitlynn Jo is a 15 year old who was in a motor vehicle accident which left her with numerous injuries. Since her admission to Avera McKennan Hospital she has had many mountains to overcome in her recovery. Kaitlynn is now on the road to healing with extensive rehab in speech, occupational, and physical therapy to improve her strength and fine tune her daily routines.

Kaitlynn is an extremely strong-willed girl who doesn’t give up. She is always surprising staff with exceeding her daily goals and moving to new levels in her recovery. She loves to play jokes on staff (hiding the remote for the TV).

Her spirit shows what an incredible girl she is. She is always smiling and laughing. Katie works hard every day. Her drive and enthusiasm is what makes Katie the awesome girl she is! Way to go Katie!


avera children's champion Kaleb, a 6-year-old boy, came to Avera Children’s Hospital after a busy summer and the start of school. Kaleb was hospitalized for over a week to recover from an accident and receive treatments. A Child Life Specialist teamed up with nursing staff and Physical Therapists to complete Kaleb’s daily treatments. PT ladies said "For a 6-year-old boy, Kaleb is the bravest kid they have ever worked with during his treatments."  Kaleb was a big help to everyone when it was time for his 'baths'. He was a boy who knew what he wanted, he knew which arm to start with during his treatments and even loved putting the stickers on his chest so he could see his heart beating on the monitor. He was a very brave boy and never complained. Kaleb had his fun time while being in the hospital as well. He enjoyed jumping into the wheelchair and racing down the halls and weaving in and out of the nurse’s station so he could 'chat' with the girls. Kaleb is a true champion and we are proud to have him as an Avera Champion!!


avera children's champHave you ever thought to yourself - how will I get a four year old to hold still for more then ten minutes, let alone a whole month in bed without moving or getting out of bed? Tanner is a prime example of success.

Tanner came to Avera three months ago for surgery. He was hospitalized for three weeks which required complete bed rest. Shortly after discharge Tanner needed to return to the hospital for a few more weeks to tweak a few things. Tanner must have missed all his nursing friends so much that he wanted to come back to Avera Children’s for a third time! Even though Tanner had to come back to the hospital for yet another surgery which required strict bed rest, he still had fun with games, coloring, bubbles and painting. Tanner is a true champion and has overcome several challenges along the way; but in the end he always left the hospital with a big smile on his face and saying 'Tag You're It', a game he likes to tease the nursing staff with. Congratulations Tanner!! YOU DID IT!!!


avera childrens champ - steevenSteeven, a bright and energetic 6 year old boy. Steeven first came to Avera Children’s for a procedure after only being in America for a month, he is originally from Haiti. Steeven stayed in the hospital for a week after his first procedure to make sure things were going well. During that time Steeven liked playing with the trucks in the playroom. He did not complain about his long stay with us. He melts your heart and loves giving hugs.

Shortly after his first procedure, Steeven had to come back to the hospital for three more follow up procedures. Each time he came back he enjoyed dressing up like a doctor (preparing for surgery) before going into the OR with the Child Life Specialist.

The Children’s Center staff has enjoyed getting to know Steeven and his family during his numerous stays at Avera Children’s. Steeven is a smart little boy with a bright future! Who knows - maybe even becoming a Doctor or Surgeon?


avera children's championLucy came to Avera Children’s with pneumonia. Lucy was very brave throughout her hospitalization. She traveled around the pediatric unit as she got to stay in three different rooms. Lucy was very tough even during the hard times when she got poked several times for an IV start and lab draws. Along with having several CT scans and chest X-Rays, she even had procedures to help drain the fluid that was in her lungs. It was great to see improvement as Lucy was feeling better. Pediatric staff along with a couple college nursing students helped Lucy as she had to go on several walks during the day to help boost her energy to feel better. Child Life provided activities and games for Lucy during her hospitalization. The last few days before Lucy discharged, Lucy got to help Child Life Specialist paint pictures on the patient’s doors and windows which brought a smile to her face. On Lucy’s last day she got to syringe paint with Child Life. She enjoyed being creative with the paint and getting messy. What a great way to end a long twelve day stay at Avera Children’s. Congratulations Lucy for showing us how strong you are. You truly are a Champion!


avera children's champion Quinn is a five year old girl who was diagnosed with a tumor when she was only 6 months old. In order to make sure the tumor was gone, Quinn would have to come to Avera Pediatrics for follow up procedures such as CT Scans and a MRI every six months. Quinn just completed all her procedures this month by holding very still and being a good listener. She was a brave little girl who followed directions, practiced role playing with the play MRI, and completed all three procedures without moving. With the support of Quinn’s parents and Pediatric staff we were all cheering and celebrating after Quinn showed us how she was a brave super star. Congratulations Quinn for becoming our Avera Children’s Champion!! Way to go, we are all proud of you.


children's champion 2011Chayce is a five year old boy who was admitted to Avera Children’s after several different procedures prior to having a major surgery. Chayce has the biggest smile and is full of laughter even when he wasn’t feeling well. He was so brave during all his procedures and going into surgery, you knew he would overcome his hospitalization and get back on track. Chayce never once complained when he needed to walk or when it was time to take medicine. Chayce liked putting stickers on his Sticker chart when he finished his goals for walking each day. Chayce enjoyed his time in the playroom with his parents and Child Life playing video games and doing craft projects and he even enjoyed licking frosting off his fingers when he made a gingerbread house. Way to go Chayce for being a true champion! The pediatric staff at Avera Children’s couldn’t be happier for you.


Mariah is a young girl full of smiles and laughter. Mariah came to Avera Children's Pediatric ICU after falling, causing a spleen injury. Mariah was hospitalized for a couple weeks on bed rest. During her recovery she was full of energy and kept Child Life busy with all her craft projects and games, she was eager to play. Her favorite activity was Syringe Painting. Mariah would stay up late into the evening watching movies and having sleepovers with her friend in her hospital room.

Soon after Mariah was discharged, she was right back visiting Avera Children's for a few days before discharging for the second time. A few months had gone by and one day Mariah was admitted again as she wasn't feeling well. After several tests, pokes, and x-rays they found out her appendix was causing her discomfort. So off to surgery she went and was very brave. Three hospitalizations in a short amount of time, Mariah has overcome challenges and never lost her smile and laughter. Mariah was a lot of fun and Avera Children's staff was honored in taking care of her during her hospitalizations.


avera children's champion - BryceBryce is a 13 year old who came to us in June after being injured in an accident. Bryce had a long recovery and an amazing attitude! Every day he impressed the nurses and hospital staff with his continued improvement and strength. With a smile and extra hugs to go around he was always a delight to take care of. Bryce has the heart of a champion and the staff at Avera Children’s is honored to have cared for him during his hospital stay. Way to go Bryce!!!


Joshua is a 4 year old little boy who came to Avera Children's by Careflight. Before coming to Avera Children's he spent a week in the hospital in Aberdeen. Joshua was very ill and had to go through two major surgeries, numerous pokes and tests while spending a month with us. Joshua always had a smile on his face and would laugh while he was painting his flower pots or making sand art projects with Child Life. He was such a brave little boy who never gave up or never complained. He loved being the nurse's little helper when it was time for his medication. Joshua is truly a champion and Avera Children's staff is honored to have taken care of Joshua during his hospital stay at Avera Children's Hospital. Way to go Joshua!!!


Jordan is a 3 year-old little boy, who was brought to us by airplane (which was very "cool" according to Jordan) from Aberdeen due to severe respiratory issues. His severe respiratory issues caused him to have surgery along with several chest tubes while being at Avera Children's. Jordan was a brave little boy and such a fighter during his stay here. Each day Jordan's personality and strength showed through and soon was running the halls and playing the playroom. Jordan's parents never left his side and provided encouragement and strength during Jordan's hospitalization. Jordan loved putting together puzzles and spending hours in the playroom. Jordan's smile and giggles would brighten your day. Congratulations Jordan - you were so brave!

A few days after Jordan was discharged from the hospital, his older sister Cassandra was admitted to Avera Children's with the same diagnosis as Jordan.


Cassandra "Cassie" is a 12 year old girl who was admitted to the hospital in Aberdeen. After spending a week in the hospital, she then transferred to Avera Children's. When she wasn't feeling her best, she still had a smile on her face and was always up for a challenge. While being in the hospital Cassie did not once complain about her lab draws or tests that needed to be done. Cassie had a very positive attitude, always smiling and laughing. Cassie couldn't go wrong when she was pushed by her little brother, as he would say "drink, drink, drink" so she would feel better soon. Cassie loved making craft projects and playing games to pass the time. Cassie had amazing support from family and friends. Avera Children's Staff truly enjoyed taking care of Cassie and proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations Cassie on being an Avera Children's Champion.



Samuel has had an extended stay at Avera Children's of over three weeks due to ongoing health conditions. Samuel has had previous hospitalizations as well. He has undergone several procedures and tests during his stay. Samuel has a wonderful support team including his parents, grandparents, friends and family. He loves to listen to music, stories and also enjoys going for rides in the hallway. Congratulations Samuel for being so brave.

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