Racing to the Finish Line for Children’s National, a Critical Voice for Our Most Vulnerable

By Carrie Marriott

Guest blogger Carrie Marriott is an active philanthropist and advocate for children’s health and education, and a busy mother of four children under the age of 12. Youngest son, Henry, is one of the compelling reasons why Carrie is chairing the second annual Race for Every Child for Children’s National Health System in Washington, DC to ensure that all children have access to world class health care, regardless of their ability to pay.

Every year, Children’s National Health System admits upwards of 15,000 children to the hospital from the Washington, DC area, nationally and around the world, as well as another 108,000+ emergency visits and close to 500,000 outpatient visits. These children and their families come from near and far, hoping for a small or a big miracle to make their precious child well again.

Matt and Karen Smith’s son Noah is just one important example. Born with an extremely rare heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot With Inverted Great Arteries {S, D, I}, Noah needed medical expertise that was hard to find. His was one of only 10 known cases around the world. His surgeon at Children’s National had treated this very condition and is at the forefront of innovation in the area. Today, Noah is like any other adorable, active 4-year-old, running up and down the soccer field and triumphantly scoring goals.

Photo courtesy of Carrie Marriott

Like Matt and Karen Smith, my husband David and I also are so grateful to Children’s National. Our youngest son Henry, just 10 months old at the time, suffered second-degree burns from grabbing a hot oven door that was open only for an instant. As his little hands instantly bubbled up into big blisters and he was inconsolably in tremendous pain, my first thought was that we needed to bring him to Children’s National because of its unique pediatric burn unit. We were able to do so only after the ambulance service determined that the closest hospital to us did not have such a specialty and wouldn’t be able to care for him. Children’s National worked a miracle in that Henry had no nerve damage and no scarring. Five years later, you would never know he’d been through such trauma.

Today, my family and I are in a race of another kind – to get to the finish line to help raise $1 million through the Race for Every Child 5K run/walk on September 13. It will be a fun-filled family day with a serious purpose: To bring communities together to encourage children’s health and wellness, and to raise much-needed funds that help the hospital – consistently ranked a top pediatric hospital in the nation – provide world-class preventive and critical medical care to every family in need, regardless of their ability to pay.

As chair of the second annual Race for Every Child, I am rallying communities locally and nationally, in person and virtually, to ensure that every child, every family, every community member has a chance at a healthy life.

In many ways, Children’s National is the voice for the vulnerable. Last year alone, the 303-bed hospital provided about $41.3 million in uncompensated care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable children. With its groundbreaking research, unrelenting advocacy and a skilled medical team, Children’s National has made lasting, profound effects on pediatric patients, improving health outcomes regionally, nationally and internationally.

For example, on one recent day, Children’s National convened leaders of children’s hospitals, associations, and advocacy groups involved in mental health with the goal of developing recommendations that could inform policy, improve treatment and optimize access to mental health care services for children. Children’s National staff have been recognized nationally for championing tough issues like fighting child abuse and neglect, and pioneering cutting-edge diagnostics in fetal and newborn care.

The Race for Every Child will take place at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., right off Pennsylvania Avenue, “America’s Main Street.” Last year, the inaugural race drew participants from 26 states and the District of Columbia with almost two-thirds of the runners/walkers female.

Registration for the Race is now open. I urge you to get your organizations, you communities involved – for all of our children. We say that with the Race for Every Child, “the finish line is just the beginning” because the funds raised from the event will have a lasting impact on the lives of so many children in need. Please sign up to walk, run or volunteer at RaceForEveryChild.org.

The Race is fun, it’s fitness, it’s family. It’s inspirational. It’s community. It’s making a difference.

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