Monroe girl receives honor for courage

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:58

    MONROE-Samantha White is a nine year-old Monroe resident who lives life today as any other 9 year-old does. It didn't begin that way. But Samantha took on a fight; she won, and was rewarded for so this past weekend. When she was born, she was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition. Being at the hospital became a normal way of life for Samatha as she began to walk, talk and count, so her state could be watched by doctors. She also depended on several heart medications for her condition. When Samantha was six, she needed an operation to repair her left coronary artery and Mitral valve, something many 6 year-olds can not even pronounce. But this young girl knew the terms all too well. Her mother, Dawn, described the day when her daughter went under the doctor's hands: "The day of Sam's surgery was very hard. Waiting to hear it was over seemed to take forever." The resilient child came through the surgery successfully, and was ready to get back to daily life. "Samantha not only pulled through with success, but she was also back in school just one month after surgery and running the mile in gym class three months later," said Dan Loughran, the public relations spokesman for Westchester Medical Center and the Children's Miracle Network. For her courage and strength, Samantha was honored this past Saturday at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. She was named this year's New York Foresters Champion Ambassador to the Children's Miracle Network (CMN), an alliance of premier children's hospitals which are located throughout North America. "Samantha was chosen for her tenacity and perseverance in coping with a congenital heart condition discovered at birth," Loughran said. Every year, children are selected from each state and 11 Canadian province's for the honor. These "Champions," as they are referred to, serve as ambassadors to the children who receive treatment in Children's Miracle Network hospitals each year. The number of children in this category is 17 million. Foresters, a financial services organization that helps raise funds for non-profit children's organizations, take the "Champions" and their families to Washington D.C., (or for Canadian children, the city of Ottawa, Canada's capitol) where they highlight the vital work of children's hospitals. The "Champions" also fly to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the taping of the "Children's Miracle Network Celebration," which airs across America and Canada in June. And this year, New York State's representative in Foresters Champions across America program is Monroe's own, Samantha White. The Monroe-Woodbury school student was also recognized for her efforts and drive for creating a virtual diary of her experience at the hospital with her condition. That very virtual diary is being used to inspire other children who may or may not be as strong-willed as White. "Because of her good nature and ability to articulate herself, she was asked if she would put together a virtual diary of her hospital experience. She agreed, and today Samantha's experience is helping other kids and their parents cope with open-heart surgery," Loughran said. Samantha will also be the Grand Marshall for the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital Walk The Walk Walkathon on May 15. Samantha White is an inspiration for many children, especially those who must go under procedures or operations like she did. The video diary which is available exclusively to children and their family's who may fear an upcoming procedure, inspires children and gives them the strength to get through it, just as she did. "Samantha still visits the hospital occasionally for follow-up visits and although she will most likely need surgery again in the future," Loughran said, "she is currently living a typical nine year old's life."