SOUTHWICK-At only 7, Morgan “Momo” Morris is seen as a “champion” by the Massachusetts Children’s Miracle Network.
On Wednesday morning at a special reception in her honor by Baystate Children’s Hospital – along with her family and best friend Madison Douglas – Morris was named the 2016-2017 Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Champion for Massachusetts. She is the daughter of Laura and Jeffrey Morris of Harvest Lane. Big brother Andrew, 11, also attended the event to support his sister.
Baystate officials at the reception noted that Morgan will spend the next year with her family representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at events that include a congressional visit to Washington, D.C. in June and a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida next February. The two-part “ambassador tour” raises awareness of the charitable needs of children’s hospitals. Inspiring pediatric patients represent every state, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
To win this award, Morgan beat out every other pediatric applicant across the state. This “impressive recognition” is in honor of the fighting spirit and determination that Morgan used to battle her illness, according to Baystate officials who nominated her.
At only 2, Morgan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Baystate officials said she was strong-willed throughout her more than two years of daily chemotherapy treatments, multiple spinal taps, and hospitalizations, always wearing sparkling shoes and tutus with “true princess flair.”
Baystate officials also noted that Morgan “charms and inspires” all those around her with a can-do attitude, a kind heart, and an ability to make people laugh.
“Whatever she does with her life, you can bet she’ll do it with a smile and a twirl,” said Baystate officials.
Today, Morgan is cancer-free and living the life of a happy, healthy 7-year-old girl.
In an interview later in the afternoon at their home, Morgan was a bit shy but said she was most excited about going to Walt Disney World. Morgan is currently in kindergarten and enjoys learning how to read and count numbers. In her spare time, she enjoys riding “Teddy” at the Kline View Farm.
“I’m learning how to take care of Teddy,” said Morgan, adding she enjoys brushing him, bringing him carrots, and braiding his tail.
Laura Morris thanked everyone at Baystate for their support, noting, “Baystate is a gem in our backyard. We are excited and honored to be a champion family and to be a voice for the children in this area.”
The Morris family conducts two fundraisers throughout the year to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network. In the fall they ask family and friends to donate gift cards that are given to children in active treatment at Baystate Children’s Hospital during the holiday season, and during the winter they conduct the Ice It Up fundraiser at the Amelia Park Ice Arena in Westfield. Proceeds raised from Ice It Up benefits the children’s cancer fund at Baystate Children’s Hospital.
Attendees at the reception included State Rep. Nicholas Boldyga, who presented Morgan with a certificate from the State House, and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who proclaimed Wednesday as “Morgan ‘Momo’ Day” in the city and presented her with a certificate.
Donations made to CMN Hospitals helped purchase infusion kits for Morgan and other pediatric oncology patients and also helped provide new in-patient room pull-out couches that her parents “especially appreciated,” according to Baystate officials. Donations also support the child life program.
“Many people don’t realize that government and insurance programs don’t come close to covering a children’s hospitals costs to provide care,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “Donations from area companies and individuals save kids’ lives by providing vital equipment, research treatments and charitable care. Our Champions demonstrate the personal impact that community donations — large and small — have on local kids and families.”
The CMN Hospitals Champions program began in 1996 and has helped bring awareness to the needs of 10 million children treated at CMN Hospitals each year. This year’s Champions program is presented by CMN Hospitals’ partners Delta Air Lines, Marriott International, Chico’s FAS, Inc., and Ace Hardware. They support travel arrangements and special experiences for Champions and their families.
Laura Morris said that her family will always be an advocate for children with cancer and their families.
“For us at first it was overwhelming but we took a step back and trusted the medical team,” she said. “We kept a sense of calm in our home and focused on the positive each day. We are thankful we can use our voice to help others.”