Tag Archives: champ

An emergency room visit with a friend

Always bring a book and a bear to the E.R.

There was a time when Quinnlin’s family didn’t know about anti-rejection drugs and IV antibiotics and near monthly E.R. visits for her or her brother, Gage. Quinnlin and Gage survived kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplants, both at the age of eight and now are in the phase where things like twice daily drugs and IVs and regular E.R. visits are (their) normal.

Last month when Quinnlin had a simple bump on her arm turn into an infection that was growing, her mom knew they’d end up in the E.R. and probably admitted before she even called their doctor to discuss the color, shape and size of the area.

Always helpful…a friend and electronics.

“It looks red and it’s growing. It looks exactly like Gage’s did when it was MRSA.” Quinnlin’s mom said to the care team. MRSA is a resistant staph infection that sends fear into just about any medical professional, but many doctors, including organ transplant teams, are particularly worried about MRSA in their patients.

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Building the Right Friendships & Finding the Right Doctor

Champerina meets Dr. Teddy

In honor of Friendship Day today, Aug. 5, we wanted to share another special story about Quinnlin and her beary special friend Champerina.

When Quinnlin turned three she visited the dentist, like most kids. Nearly seven years later she still sees the very special Dr. Theodore Levitas or “Dr. Teddy”, as nearly everyone calls him. Dr. Teddy specializes in dentistry for kids with special needs.

On a recent appointment Quinnlin knew bringing Champerina with her to see Dr. Teddy would be fine because Dr. Teddy has hundreds of teddy bears himself. Quinnlin arrived with Champerina, proudly telling him, “This is my bear and I knew you would like her because you are Dr. Teddy and I know you like all kinds of bears!” Having Champerina come with her helps because going to the dentist can be kind of scary. It helped that this dentist had an entire conversation to and about Champerina and that make Quinnlin relax even more.

 

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Champ’s luck brings him to Ireland!

Champ arrives with a letter from his last hosts!

By Julia Roberts

After his adventures in Slovenia and traveling over 1800 kilometers/1100 miles, Champ arrived safely in Ireland. He wasn’t too tired to hand deliver a special note from the Križ family, where they declared he had a fabulous time!

Champ landed in the welcoming arms of the Dempsey family, Mum and Dad – Lorraine and Carl – almost 9-year-old twin girls Rianna and Sadhbh and 5-year-old daughter Freya as well as their animal family of 4 rescue dogs and cats! They live in a spectacular mountainous area just one hour south of the capital city, Dublin. Ireland, “the land of a thousand welcomes,” is a small island off the coast of Europe with beautiful landscapes, castles, ancient monuments and towns. Visitors like Champ are always made to feel welcome and just like Champ, the Irish people are well known for travelling to different countries!

Rianna barely survived her birth and suffered brain damage as a result of not enough oxygen.

Freya and Champ hitch a ride!

Her parents were given no hope for her to live and in a heart wrenching decision, took her off of her ventilator. Having said their goodbyes, they requested that Rianna be placed with her twin. It wasn’t long before Rianna’s breathing matched that of Sadhbh. “We even saw her moving her fingers on Sadhbh’s skin. Something powerful had happened and we have never looked back,” say their parents. Rianna also has a heart murmur that resulted in an additional diagnosis of Tetralogy of Fallot; a complex cardiac defect.

Rianna had open-heart surgery when she was nine months old and within a few days, she giggled and rolled on to her tummy for the first time. Rianna has had a lot of intervention over the years due to her diagnoses of spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy with mild dystonia, epilepsy, microcephaly and global developmental delay.

Like many kids with special needs, she has surpassed everyone’s expectations. Rianna uses a walker and wheelchair and has difficulties with mobility and speech. Because she has some sensory issues due to needing more input to feel things, she has a lot of bruises and scrapes, often not even realizing that she’s been hurt.

Rianna and her twinn Sadhbh and Champ visit Rianna’s new school. Champ approves!

All of the interventions, appointments and therapies haven’t stopped Rianna. She loves life and doesn’t live in the shadow of her twin sister Sadhbh, who is developing typically. However, this year has been particularly challenging for Rianna and her family. Rianna was plagued with uncontrollable daily seizures that robbed her of all of her energy and ability to thrive. During this same time, after waiting for a year and trying medications, Rianna was called for surgery on her salivary ducts to reduce her drooling.  While she was in the hospital recovering, the team was able to finally manage the seizures.

Champ at the marathon with Rianna’s mum Lorriane

Luckily for Champ and the Dempsey family, his arrival coincided with Rianna finally feeling better. Her life has returned to her normal busy schedule of appointments so Champ has been a visitor on many road trips. He’s been to the largest children’s hospital in Ireland, to the ENT Surgeon and to Rianna’s disability service, Enable Ireland, for a special clinic with Australian occupational therapists to fit her for a special Lycra suit. A very international day for a very international traveler! Besides being a great friend, Champ also helps with the anxiety that comes with interventions and change of routine for kids with special needs.

Checking out the new chairs at the school with Champ

Champ enjoyed lots of other activities during his visit. He ran in the largest women’s marathon in Dublin (to raise money for Special Needs Parents Association) where Rianna handed out t-shirts. He visited Rianna’s new school with her to meet staff and students. And went to a Build-A-Bear Workshop! The staff was especially excited to meet Champ because the Bear Builder Associates knew about his travels. He got the star treatment and came away with a new t-shirt and stamped passport. The staff gave Rianna a goody bag including a little bear signed by Champ’s friends at the store.

And at the end of each busy day during his visit, Champ snuggled in with the girls and a purple dinosaur and pink bear. The truly remarkable thing about Champ is that his snuggles are international and can be understood in any language. No translation necessary. That really makes him lucky.

Where in the world will Champ go next?

Champ sight-seeing with Rianna’s family


Champerina: counting more than friendships

One day Quinnlin’s mom added up how many specialists she and her brother have seen as a result of their multiple special needs. It might surprise you to know that they have seen…

  • 7 pediatric nephrologists, 2 hepatologists, 10 pediatricians, several physician assistants and 6 surgeons
  • 20 speech, physical, occupational and vision therapists
  • 1 orthopedist
  • 1 urologist
  • 100 nurses (at least), lab technicians and nurse assistants
  • 1 child life specialist, 1 nutritionist
  • 8 transplant nurses/coordinators
  • 2 psychiatrists, 2 play therapists
  • 2 dermatologists
  • 1 insurance policy, 2 secondary insurance policies and 5 case managers
  • 5 pharmacies
  • 2 social workers

Quinnlin and Champerina head to the doctor, as friends

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Champ’s adventure sends him to Slovenia!

by Julia Roberts

Champ traveled safely for more than 10 days to the country of Slovenia to visit the Križ family. He arrived from Canada and his visit with the Sears family, where he started his journey. He proudly came holding a Canadian hockey flag, which made the Križ family laugh because they are also big hockey fans! Slovenia is situated just right of Italy and below Austria, and it’s surrounded by beautiful mountains. It was a perfect destination for Champ’s Around the World Adventure!

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Champerina sees the Good, Bad and the (Sometimes) Ugly

“I’m scared,” Quinnlin said nearly three years ago, when she learned the date of her kidney transplant. She’d seen her brother go through kidney failure, dialysis and kidney transplant. She had witnessed him go through life-saving surgeries and had seen the emotional fallout and the impact of those experiences, so it was an easy decision for her parents to start Quinnlin in play therapy.

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Champ’s Around the World Adventure…begins in Canada!

We’re featuring Champ (not to be confused with Champerina), the famous Build-A-Bear Workshop bear who was created specifically to highlight children’s health and wellness for the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation. Champ was born from the inspiration of a family’s love for a daughter and the daughter’s idea to fund research. Read about Nikki, who lost her battle with cancer but whose legacy lives on in Champ. A dollar from every Champ bear sold goes directly to help fund grants to children’s related approved grant applicants.

Why is that important to know?

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