Logan Parker has a personality as big as Texas. That’s appropriate, since he will be representing the state this year as a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Champion.
Logan, 8, and his family — parents Ben and Doris Parker, and sister Taylor — were at McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White on Wednesday for the announcement.
Scott & White and McLane Children’s have been a Children’s Miracle Network partner for more than 30 years, Jeremy Ksionda, director of philanthropy, McLane Children’s Scott & White, said. The network raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals across the United States and Canada.
Donations remain local and fund critical treatments, health care services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4.7 billion, most of it $1 at a time.
Over the next 12 months, Logan will represent Mc-Lane Children’s and all of the other children’s hospitals in Texas.
The Parker family motto is “adventure is out there,” referencing the movie “Up,” a family favorite. The Bell County family’s first adventure will be in June when they travel to Washington, D.C., where Logan and his family will meet President Obama. Next March, the Parkers will go to Disney World in Florida.
A member of McLane Children’s staff fashioned a house like the one in “Up,” which mesmerized Logan. Small Tootsie Pop-like suckers stood in for the balloons that carried the house and its occupant on its adventure.
Ellen Hansen, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer for McLane Children’s, said that each year Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals name a champion for each state and those ambassadors represent the 10 million children who are treated at Children Miracle Hospitals each year.
“We are so proud that Logan and his family will be representing McLane Children’s and all of Texas,” Hansen said. “They will be advocating for the charitable need at children’s hospitals across North America.”
Hansen took the opportunity to share some of the facts about Logan that make him a champion.
Logan has Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease, a central nervous system defect of the brain that affects mobility and speech. There are 1,000 known cases in the world.
“That doesn’t tell us much about Logan,” she said.
Logan participates in speech, physical and occupational therapy sessions every week and receives Botox injections every four to six months to improve spasticity in his legs. His team of regularly seen doctors includes pediatric neurologist, neuro-ophthamologist and pediatric orthopedic surgeon.
“That’s a lot for a child, but it doesn’t stop Logan from having an infectious smile, laugh and can-do attitude,” Hansen said. “Donations help pay for his ongoing occupational therapy sessions each week and the new MRI we’ll be putting in, and the X-ray machines that are used to test his bone density, hips and ankles. Future contributions will support renovations to our physical and occupational facilities.”
Doris Parker talked about her son, as he “worked the room.”
At birth, Logan seemed perfect, she said. After a few months he developed a head nod and the Parkers were told it would go away naturally.
A genetic blood panel provided the answers to Logan’s quirks.
When Logan was diagnosed the family was told there was no cure nor treatment for PMD and it was fatal, Doris Parker said.
“We know that we have many more years with Logan, just look at him,” she said. “Our journey is not over, it’s a neurodegenerative disorder and no one knows how long we’ll have with Logan. We know that because of McLane Children’s Hospital and all of the therapies that Logan receives, he’ll be with us for a long time.”
The family is honored to represent Texas, Doris Parker said.
“We’re truly blessed,” she said.
Temple Mayor Danny Dunn read a proclamation in honor of Logan.
Dunn said it was apparent to him early on that Logan was working the room better than he could ever hope to.
“Logan, as you hug everyone in the room,” Dunn addressed the youngster as he rolled his chair up to the podium, “on behalf of everybody in Temple we wish you nothing but the very best.”
The Children’s Miracle Network is made up of a group of partners, including Marriott Family Properties, CEFCO and Walmart and others that support the work of children’s hospitals, Ksionda said.