Wyatt Smith of Parkersburg is 2011 Champion

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Shortly after Carolyn Smith gave birth to her son, Wyatt, she knew something was wrong. Though he ate regularly, he was losing weight and starving. At six-weeks-old, Wyatt was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF). His doctors in Parkersburg sent him to West Virginia University Children’s Hospital for the special care kids with CF need.

Now 15, Wyatt will represent West Virginia and join other child ambassadors from every state as a part of the Children’s Miracle Network Champions Across America presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The program brings attention to the work of children’s hospitals by honoring remarkable children who have overcome severe medical challenges.

Wyatt spends a good part of his mornings taking medication and treating his CF. After sleeping with a feeding tube all night, he wakes up to take a handful of medication and put on a vest that shakes loose the secretions that build up in his lungs.

“It’s part of the burden of cystic fibrosis; it’s mainly a digestive and lung and sinus disease, but it really is a whole body disease,” Kathy Moffett, M.D., director of WVU’s Mountain State Cystic Fibrosis Center, said. “And yet you look at Wyatt, and Wyatt doesn’t look at life and say how unfair is this. Wyatt looks at life and he wakes up with a smile on his face.”

From Wyatt’s perspective, he just wants to be treated like a normal teenager. “I want people to know CF isn’t a bad disease like everyone thinks it is,” he said. “You can go every day knowing you have it, and you can still live a normal life.”

Wyatt was introduced as West Virginia’s 2011 Champion Child today (May 12) at the Walmart Supercenter Store (#1782) in Vienna.

This October, Wyatt and his fellow champions will visit the White House and Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and will attend the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration event at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. For one week, they’ll meet with members of Congress and celebrities, visit the Disney parks and share their stories of medical victory.

Since 1987, Children’s Miracle Network and Walmart have worked together to help children by raising money for children’s hospitals. Walmart and Sam’s Club employees, customers and members have raised and contributed more than $500 million for children’s hospitals.

WVU Children’s Hospital is the only Children’s Miracle Network hospital in West Virginia. Each year, WVU Children’s Hospital provides care to more than 7,000 newborns and children, who come from every county in West Virginia and also from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio. On average, 1,600 babies are born annually at WVU Children’s Hospital. Almost three-quarters of the deliveries are high-risk. WVU Children’s Hospital physicians provide care for children at the hospital in Morgantown and at clinics throughout the state.

For more information on WVU Children’s Hospital, see www.wvukids.com.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 05-06-11