AKRON, Ohio - A kid's first plane ride can be as unexpected as it is exciting. Especially when you're a 9-year-old who's battled multiple ailments her whole life.
This special Madelyne Williams and her mom, Wendy, came to mind first when LuAnn Kuhl, a nurse practitioner at Akron Children's, heard the hospital wanted nominations for a patient to send to Washington D.C. on June 24.
Of the thousands of sweet faces Kulh has treated, Madelyne's remains particularly close to her heart. So, as representatives for Akron Children's Hospital at the "Speak Now For Kids" Family Advocacy Day, they were no-doubters.
"I've taken care of Madelyne since she was an infant until she came home from the NICU. Even with all of her problems she always just shows how to be positive, always has a smile for me, and I felt that she could show everyone how important it is to make sure ours kids get good care and that despite their difficulties how far they can come," said Kuhl.
Hospitalized nearly three dozen times at Akron Children's since she was born premature, pneumonia striking at least three times nearly ending her life.
Wendy said medical bills for Madelyne have made life tough on her and her two siblings. But they've rallied with help from Medicaid.
And workers have rallied at the hospital as well. In 2013, they helped raise money for Madelyne run in the Cleveland Triathlon where this brave young lady pulled herself up and out of her wheelchair to cross the finish line standing up.
"No family can prepare for something like this, such as a child with special needs, a premature child. The costs are outrageous and that's why we need programs like Medicaid to help," said McNair.
The process of being nominated and winning a hospital-wide election was humbling to McNair and her daughter.
"We were very honored. Very excited. Really happy. First I asked her if she wanted to go, and of course she said yes. I told her who nominated her and she said, 'Awww, I love her.' She's very excited about the plane ride. I'm excited to go see some of the things in Washington, D.C. and they explained that we would be talking to some congressmen about why it's important to have a children's hospital in our area and about Medicaid funding," said McNair.
"I'm going to tell them Madelyne's story and tell them why it's important to have Medicaid and not make any Medicaid cuts for these children," added McNair.