Hello there, this is Joell Posey Grager, Miss Hollywood 2015!
I wanted to use this opportunity to share my personal story about the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. As you may know, the Miss America Organization teamed up with CMN to raise funds for children’s hospitals throughout the U.S.
I personally was a children’s hospital patient growing up and if it wasn’t for the intelligent, caring doctors and nurses of that hospital, along with the new technologies they had introduced when I was born, I wouldn’t be alive today.
At birth, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Seattle Children’s Hospital (a member of the Children’s Miracle Network) only gave me a 5% chance of survival, but through the use of new life-support technology and medications, the dedicated medical team at Children’s saved my life. They also assisted me through the follow-up care in facing the residual challenges of Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Lung Disease, and a heart condition.
Later, when my father’s job forced a family move to Medford, Oregon, I became an outpatient at what is now named the Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, also a part of the Children’s Miracle Network. The hospital’s innovative processes of diagnostic evaluation resulted in my early diagnosis of Autism, immediately followed by cutting edge therapeutic interventions for me. I was referred to the special education preschool associated with the hospital, newly-founded “Roots and Wings,” one of the first to offer targeted instruction for Autistic children.
It was suggested by the school director Rebecca Tree and my occupational therapist Joy Lacy that my parents enroll me in dancing, singing and acting lessons to improve my muscle movement, social interactions and vocal expressions. My progress was unprecedented in overcoming the symptoms of Autism and CP. Most people who’ve met me in recent years have no idea I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.
After my family relocated back to Seattle, I was diagnosed at Children’s Hospital with Scoliosis and the orthopedic specialists were on top of everything!
All the excellent medical attention I received throughout my life along with the endless giving of my parents, siblings, family, friends and the special network of educators, coaches and art instructors has created a miracle of healing for me.
I’m thrilled my participation in the Miss America Organization allows me to give back to the amazing Children’s Miracle Network and assist other young people with special needs through my platform “Overcoming Adversities through the Arts!”