Last week brought a whirlwind of activity for 9-year-old Michael Ruud and his parents, Mike and Paty. The Duluth, Minn. family spent the beginning of the week at Gillette’s St. Paul clinic for check-ups with his team of physicians. During their stay in the Twin Cities, they also greeted supporters of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare — from employees of local Sam’s Club stores to Miss Minnesota contestants — who raise funds for the hospital through its affiliation with Children’s Miracle Network.
The week continued with more fun on Thursday, when a crowd of more than 60 people gathered at the Residence Inn Marriott in Duluth to mark the official start of Michael’s role as our Children’s Miracle Network Champion. He’ll represent Gillette, and the state of Minnesota, by sharing his story with Children’s Miracle Network fundraising partners throughout the year. Then, this fall, Michael and Champions representing our other U.S. states will travel to Walt Disney World and Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of the important work being done by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals nationwide.
Individuals who joined in Thursday’s celebration included Duluth Mayor Don Ness (pictured with Michael) and representatives from Marriott International and Delta Air Lines, both sponsors of the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Champions program (third sponsor Chico’s FAS was not present), and representatives from other Duluth-area Children’s Miracle Network partners, including Dairy Queen, Walmart, ACE Hardware and Credit Unions for Kids. Michael’s teachers, classmates, therapists, grandparents, family friends and Gillette’s Duluth Clinic staff came out to show their support, as well. The celebration got a big ‘thumbs up’ from Michael (pictured with Delta Air Lines pilot Darrel Baker and Marriott general manager Erin Maruska).
Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more on Michael’s experiences as the Gillette and Minnesota Champion child — including a special video telling the story of his family’s journey through his treatment at Gillette for a complex condition called Apert syndrome.