Every year, 170 local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals – including Gillette Children’s – identify a “Champion” in each of their local communities to serve as the face for children treated at their local children's hospital. These ambassadors spend their year advocating for the charitable needs of children's hospitals across North America.
This year, Gillette is lucky to have two Champions: Catherine and Bennett Harkness. Known to family and friends as Kate and Ben, these twin siblings were born one July day at 23 weeks and 2 days, and both weighed just more than a pound each at birth. They share a close bond and more differences than you’d think.
After spending nearly six months in the NICU fighting to get stronger, both Kate and Ben began receiving ongoing care and therapy from specialists at Gillette Children’s. While there, parents Sarah and Paul learned that both Kate and Ben had cerebral palsy (CP).
Now seven years old, the twins have taken different paths in their journeys. Kate experiences visible, physical signs of CP, while Ben is working to build muscle tone and overcome speech and processing delays.
“It’s crazy to see how the kids differ,” Sarah says. “With Kate, it’s obvious how CP affects her physically. With Ben, you wouldn’t guess from his appearance that he has CP. CP has so many different variables – it is so different for every child. This is a good life lesson: you don’t know what people are dealing with.”
Kate and Ben aren’t letting their diagnosis define them – or their challenges get in their way. Both are defying expectations and thriving with the help of specialists at Gillette Children’s and support from their family and one another. Ben, the jokester, recently started first grade and made his way across the monkey bars for the first time. Kate, the determined one, is channeling her love of unicorns into her own magical progress in therapy. They continue to show everyone just how strong they are.