We just spent a week with Champions.

Not rock stars.

Not celebrities.

Not athletes.

Champion Children.

Children who have overcome so much in their short lives. Stronger than any adult I know.

In January, our daughter Grace was selected as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Child for Rhode Island. She served as the “spokesperson” for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and helped raise awareness and money for this great cause. We have been on a yearlong journey of promotional visits and it’s been great!  We’ve really enjoyed traveling around RI and southeastern MA promoting Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network.

As I have mentioned here in the past, Grace was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer on November 4, 2010. She was three weeks past her first birthday. We almost lost her a few times during her battle. Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence RI is THE reason why she is with us today. Because of Grace’s story and all the positive that has taken place because of it Hasbro nominated her to be the Champion Child for RI.

In addition to the promotional visits, we were invited to join 63 other Champion Children and their families from across the country and Canada on a weeklong promotional trip to Washington DC and Walt Disney World.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect on this trip but we certainly didn’t expect what would take place. The trip was sponsored in part by Delta Airlines, Marriott and Chicos FAS. From the moment we entered the airport in RI, the crew at Delta treated Grace like royalty.

Grace in the cockpit. Pre-Flight


There were so many things that went on during the week. It has taken me a full week just to comprehend it all. In no particular order:

  • An entire airline terminal cheering these Champions as they came off of the jet way in DC.
  • Meeting the First Lady (Grace and her new friend and West Virginia Champion Alli in front of the White House)


  • Spending a week with Miss America who is just a wonderful young woman
  • Miss America and some amazing Champions at Arlington Cemetery


  • Laying a wreath at Arlington Cemetery
  • A completely Disney decorated chartered flight from DC to Orlando
  • A fire truck water shower for our plane and amazing reception at Orlando Airport
  • Getting off the bus at Disney’s Coronado Springs and having hundreds of supporters line the hallway to cheer these kids on. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of this.
  • Meeting Nick Cannon, Marie Osmond and John Schneider
  • Meeting Lady Antebellum and sitting on stage while they performed their concert


  • A pinning ceremony which included hundreds of supporters giving these kids pins and asking for their autographs
  • A parade in Disney World
  • Each child receiving a PlayStation 4

It was one thing after another for these kids but what stood out for me were the Champion kids and their families. These Champion kids are fighters. They have dealt with issues that most adults can’t comprehend. One mom put it best when she said, “it was so nice to see the kids just being kids”. They weren’t “the kid in the wheelchair” or “the kid with the respirator”. They were surrounded by other children with medical issues and none of them thought any different of it. This one picture stood out for me when thinking of this.

Grace and her friends playing. No one asked about medical issues. They just played.


These kids and their families have been through so much and for one week, they were allowed to forget it all and just be kids. The Children’s Miracle Network and the sponsors put on such an amazing event. We’ll never be able to thank them enough.

If you have an opportunity to support the Children’s Miracle Network, please do so. They are making a difference in the lives of so many kids in our communities. You can see additional pictures from the trip at www.facebook.com/nationalgracefoundation

They are indeed stronger than we think….

Grace, and super sibs Lila and Parker


Written By, AHWD Finance & Investment Expert – Anthony Gallonio