MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – The Madigan Army Medical Center’s Medical Mall was filled with ardent supporters of some of the strongest fighters Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., has seen as the 21st annual Young Heroes Award Ceremony took place Saturday, June 5.
“This is arguably the most heart-warming ceremony that occurs at Madigan each year,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Bonnie Jordan, a developmental pediatrician, and program director for the Developmental Pediatrics Fellowship Program who served as the master of ceremonies as well as a hero presenter.
Much of the Department of Pediatrics was in attendance to cheer on the 12 kids who were nominated by friends, family, teachers or their healthcare team members as stand-out examples of strength and resilience in their day-to-day battles with physical and developmental challenges. In addition, two young adults were awarded college scholarships from the Madigan Foundation, an independent non-profit organization that supports patients and families who receive care at Madigan.
These young people have been diagnosed with a wide variety of illnesses, from cancer to diabetes to autoimmune disorders. They work hard at their academic studies and engage in hobbies and interests like every other kid; some play sports and musical instruments, others are artists and dancers. Along with all these typical childhood activities, they each tackle the daily trials of the disease that accompanies them everywhere they go.
“I know I speak for everybody when I say we are inspired and in awe of all these young heroes and it just goes to show you that not all heroes wear capes,” said Madigan Acting Commander Col. (Dr.) Scott Roofe.
CH (Maj.) Rebecca Ammons offered an invocation and Roofe and Col. (Dr.) Melissa Forouhar, the chief of Pediatrics, gave the kids their medals and certificates. A 2012 Young Heroes scholarship recipient functioned as an inspiring guest speaker. Ira Morton was accompanied at the podium by his mother as he spoke of his experience earning his college degree while he lives with cerebral palsy.
“This award showed me that people believe in me,” said Morton of his own scholarship award that helped him realize his goal of going to college. He earned an associate’s degree in early childhood education and a bachelor’s in leadership.
Their doctors and nurses introduced each hero and told the audience a bit about their journey before they received a medal and certificate acknowledging their bravery and perseverance. Every presenter mentioned the positive attitude, the hugs and smiles and determined nature that these young patients bring into every clinic visit and every painful and debilitating procedure. The love and appreciation for life and the people around them that these kids display every day was also widely noted.
“For these young heroes and heroines, today is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate their successes and resiliency, despite the day-to-day challenges they face due to their unique diagnoses,” Jordan noted of the day’s importance.
The Young Heroes program originated in 1987 at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich. In 1999, it was established at JBLM and adopted by the Madigan Foundation in 2003. In 2005, the program was renamed the Claire Daily-Stafinbil Young Heroes Program in honor of Daily-Stafinbil who diligently gave of her time to support the program locally.
Morton put a fine point on how many of these young people tackle their lives.
“I’m not sure what’s next, but I know I have so much more to accomplish,” Morton said. “Go and believe, you can surprise yourself what you can achieve.”
The Young Heroes and their Madigan healthcare providers who recognized them were:
Martin Quesada, Col. (Dr.) Jason Caboot, pediatric pulmonologist
Jonathan Guido, Lt. Col (Dr.) Kirk Liesemer, pediatric cardiologist
Brody Geneman, Dr. Robert Newman, pediatric endocrinologist
Peter Satkowiak, Capt. (Dr.) Joshua DeJong, pediatric resident