Sweet inspiration behind Gracie’s Fund for leukemia research

Gracie's battle with cancer inspired The Original Murdick’s Fudge of Mackinac Island to support Gracie's Fund for leukemia research at Mott Children's Hospital.

At age four, Gracie Irish was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“My husband and I were in complete shock,” says Gracie’s mom, Amy Irish. “We were numb.”

After sharing news of Gracie’s diagnosis, friends of the Irish family recommended they visit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for treatment.  Acting on the recommendation, Gracie was airlifted from their hometown hospital to Mott by U-M’s Survival Flight crew.

Amy remembers this first interaction with U-M staff vividly.

“I was sobbing at this moment and a member of the flight crew immediately came over to reassure me,” she says. “He said, ‘don’t worry, she’s going to a great place – my own son was treated at Mott and is now a successful college student.’  It gave me a sense of hope from the very start.”

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Looking deeper, learning more

Samantha Provenzano visits with Big Bird inside the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital eight months after undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor.

Doctors evaluating then-6-year-old Samantha’s hearing problems found something else – a tumor in her brain.  Now she’s back on track after surgery, finishing first grade this spring and sporting a colorful set of hearing aids.

Like most 7-year-olds, Samantha Provenzano is always on the move.

She loves rollerblading, riding her bike, playing baseball and practicing Tae Kwon Do with her younger sister, Gabriella.

Anyone meeting the Livonia first grader may find it hard to believe that about a year ago, surgeons at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital removed a tumor from her brain. Continue reading

Gamers Outreach brings their ‘A’ game to Mott

Video game charity donates two gaming systems, carts to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital patient Kyle Sexton plays a video game using one of the Gamers Outreach Foundation's GO Karts. It was Kyle's first time using the Go Kart.

Kyle Nicholson escapes from his seventh floor room in the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital through an Xbox.

Nicholson, of Shelby Township, Mich., is battling leukemia and has been at Mott for about four weeks. He says the video game system recently stationed in his room – along with his favorite game, “Madden NFL 11,” – helps him pass the time.

“The screen is very nice,” he says. “It gives me something to do instead of just watch TV all day.”

The Xbox helping to take Nicholson’s mind off of treatment is located on one of two portable video game kiosks donated to Mott by the Gamers Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit charity organization that uses video games to help others.

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A fighter by the name of “Victor”

In dire circumstances, an extraordinary option for Victor and his family.

Valerie Munguia-Bryan and Mario Bryan knew for months that one of their twin babies would be born with a devastating congenital defect. But they refused to give up hope.

The Saginaw, Michigan, couple was referred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital by their hometown physician because of U-M’s expertise in repairing difficult congenital defects and for heart-lung support technology known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. Doctors expected the couple’s newborn would need to be placed on ECMO to be kept alive from birth and through surgery to repair the defect. Continue reading