Many dream of meeting the president of the United States one day. That dream became a reality Tuesday for Children’s Hospital Central California patient Milca Gutierrez.
President Barack Obama spent part of the afternoon with Milca and 52 other child ambassadors as part of Champions Across America presented by Walmart and Sam’s Club. The Children’s Miracle Network program highlights the important work being done at children’s hospitals by honoring remarkable children like Milca who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. Afterward he invited them to play on his daughters’ new swing set on the south lawn.
The Fresno native’s visit to the White House wrapped up a whirlwind weeklong trip that included several days in Florida for the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration event at Walt Disney World Resort. During her time in Washington, DC, Milca attended a luncheon with members of Congress at the Capitol. She met Miss America 2009 Katie Stam and country music star Mark Wills and squeezed an outing to the National Air and Space Museum.
A constant source of optimism and encouragement despite her health challenges, the Powers Elementary School student has a rare genetic condition called osteogensis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. This disorder affects the connective tissue and the slighted bump can cause a fracture.
Milca was four months old when the disease was discovered. The 11-year-old has been seen at the Orthopaedic Surgery and Genetic Medicine & Metabolism practices at Children’s more than 180 times and has undergone more than 10 operations. Thanks to the cutting-edge medical care she receives, Milca is able to live an active life. Her favorite activities include swimming and math, and she dreams of becoming a doctor and helping others.
In the weeks leading up to her trip, Milca was surprised with a $500 Walmart gift card to help purchase items for her travels to Orlando and Washington. She was treated to a pizza party with Orthopaedic nurses and support staff. Children’s held a special send-off ceremony in the hospital’s donor recognition area. Her class from Powers Elementary School was on hand to help hospital staff present her with gifts for her trip including luggage.
Since 1987, Children’s Miracle Network and Wal-Mart have worked together to help children by raising money for children’s hospitals. Walmart and Sam’s Club associates, customers and members have raised and contributed more than $460 million for children’s hospitals. In 2008 Walmart and Sam’s Club contributed $1,759,827 to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in California.