Children's Miracle Network Helps North Florida Families

Grayson Irwin
Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-01 11:57:16-04

GAINESVILE, Fla. (WTXL)-- The Children's Miracle Network is getting ready for an event to raise money for North Florida and South Georgia families. In 2013 alone, the organization raised more than $800,000 to help patients from the area get treatment at Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Grayson Irwin is just a typical two year old. He recently learned to play games on a tablet and the power of the word "no."

But there's something about Grayson that isn't so typical.

"He's been undergoing chemo therapy for fifteen months now," said Janelle Irwin, Grayson's mother.

Grayson was diagnosed with lukemia just around his first birthday. The Irwin's spent the first six month at Shands Hospital for treatment. Now, Grayson has to make the trip once a month for treatment or if he gets a fever or other side effect.

"Nothing like driving that much with a little one, but you get used to the same road over and over and over again," said Irwin.

Grayson's family isn't the only one who makes a two and a half hour drive down the interstate from Tallahassee to Gainesville to get the care their child needs. Two-week-old Beckham was brought to Shands a few days after his birth when he was diagnosed with SCIDs.

"Basically, he doesn't have an immune system," said Beckham's father Tanner Nance, "so he's unable to fight off any sickness that he may receive."

Four-year-old Success was rushed to Shands in an ambulance after getting second degree burns on her neck and back. But these families say their trips are made a little bit easier thanks to the Children's Miracle Network.

"Pretty much everything you see in this room-- the Tvs, the entertainment, all the toys that he plays with-- those were all provided by Children's Miracle Network," said Irwin.

"It's not a five star hotel, but we try to get as close to a combination of that and Disney World as we can," said Lance Spano, Guest Services Specialist. He says the organization provides books, movies, games and even a playroom for children being treated at the hospital.

"A lot of the improvements in the hospital and pediatrics for the rooms, the renovations, the fish tank, the toys-- all of that is Children's Miracle Network," said Spano.

And it's those improvements that families say help make their situation a little better.

"We feel very fortunate and very lucky to be placed here and have such great care," said Aleah Kirby, Beckham's mother. "We know we're in really great hands."

"They're just showing them a lot of attention and love that they need when they're going through things like this," said Success's mother Sonya Thurman.

The Children's Miracle Network in Tallahassee has a fundraising event coming up Friday November 7. It's their 5th Annual Belt Buckle Ball. It's at The Farm at 4300 North Meridian Road. There will be food, entertainment and a "best buckle" contest. The festivities begin at 6:30, but a meet and greet starts at 5:30 p.m.

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