Fifty kids from across the country and their families are in D.C. this week for a dream vacation. They're the Children's Miracle Networks Champions.
They are survivors who've overcome incredible health challenges and are now helping to raise awareness about the work Children's Miracle Network hospitals are doing.
The group was at the ESPN zone Monday morning where they were treated to a concert by country music artist, Mark Wills and rubbed elbows with Miss America 2010, Caressa Cameron.
For many of the kids, the fun zone seemed like the happiest place on earth.
"I just like it," said Joshua Lavitt, as he rode an arcade motorcycle that he could lean from side to side with the weight of his body.
The eight-year old from Connecticut had an extremely rare from of staph infection and may lose a leg. He, like many of the other children, was able to forget about their problems at the arcade and just be kids.
The trip is a dream come true for eight-year-old Michael Wight and his 10-year old sister Mackenzie. Both suffered traumatic brain injuries nearly four years ago after a truck hit the car their grandmother was driving.
Their mother Nicole says it's been a tough road to recovery, but thanks to the Children's Specialized Hospital in New Jersey, they're making it.
She says, "After my mom passed away that light inside of them went out. To see that back in full force now is just incredible.”
That's what the Children's Miracle Network is all about; giving kids hope and the chance of a better life.
President and CEO, Scott Burt says, "The money donated through Children's Miracle Network goes to help these hospitals deliver that much better care at each hospital."
Eight-year old Amanda Merrell's rare bone cancer was treated at Children's National Medical Center in D.C. The care she got helped her cope with losing a leg.
Her mother, Suzanne, says being here shows her she's still a normal little girl.
Suzanne says, "They get to be here having fun; enjoying life."
Amanda says, "It feels really good."
The 50 Champions will spend the week all over the District, meeting lawmakers, President Obama, touring the sites and taking in a Nationals game.
15-year old Sam Gladen says he's grateful for the opportunity. He says, "It's really cool. I've never been to D.C. before. I'm having fun."
Gladen suffers from a neurological disorder that tells his brain his body is in pain. Despite the condition, he says he feels blessed and is giving back. He's helping new friends like four-year old Wyatt Peterson from Wisconsin overcome his odds.
Gladen spent much of the day playing with Peterson. He helped him get on rides and work controls that the little boy couldn’t.
Peterson has Spina bifida and even though he knows he has to do things differently, he never lets that get him down.
His mother Angie says, "He just wants to be like everyone else. He had some limitations, but we just do things differently."
Overcoming challenges with the help of the Children's Miracle Network; giving kids a chance at a normal and happy life.
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club are the title sponsors of the program. So far they've raised more than $500 million for the Children's Miracle Network.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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