Allow me to introduce you to nine-year-old Kaitlin Clutter of Manchester, N.J. She is one of the thousands of reasons to support Miracle Treat Day on Thursday, August 5 when participating Dairy Queen® and DQ® Grill & Chill® locations across the U.S. will donate at least $1 from every Blizzard® Treat sold to benefit Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals.
Kaitlin is an amazing young lady. I had the good fortune of meeting her when the DQ Blizzard®mobile tour kicked-off in New York to celebrate the 25th birthday of the Blizzard Treat and raise money and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network.
While it might not seem like a big deal that Kaitlin came out before the crack of dawn to join us in announcing the tour on the CBS Early Show and then came to Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey to help us hand out Blizzard Treats to the staff and hospitalized children, believe me it is. You see, Kaitlin was born with Spina Bifida, a malformation of the spine and spinal cord that comes with a host of complications. Kaitlin has faced hydrocephalus; a tethered spinal cord; severe club feet; bowel, bladder and kidney problems; reflux; asthma; and paralysis of the lower legs.
But, there she was on that day in April, smiling and enjoying a Blizzard Treat on national television and then helping serve Blizzard Treats at the hospital.
What strikes you when you meet her, aside from her cute freckled face, is her unbridled enthusiasm and incredible spirit. She brought Blizzard Treats to all of the kids in the hospital lobby who were too sick to come outside, actually asking the nurses if she bring them Blizzard Treats as well.
At one point, the lobby was empty except for the guard at the desk and me. Kaitlin, with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step, said to the guard, “Hi, how are you doing today? Did you get your Blizzard?” When the guard answered no, she quickly turned on her heels and bounced back outside to get the guard his Blizzard Treat.
What’s hard to believe when you meet her, is that doctors told Kaitlin’s parents when she was born that she’d have such severe complications she’d never perform the most basic tasks. She would never crawl, walk, see, hear, speak, learn or eat. But, good thing for all us — no one ever told Kaitlin that. She has made it through every hurdle and every surgery she’s faced. This is a fantastic young lady whose smile from ear to ear is contagious.
I also had the opportunity to speak with her parents. They have story after story about Kaitlin, each more miraculous than the next. As her mom always says, “We celebrate every milestone with tears of joy for which others take for granted.” She credits the excellent care and endless therapy sessions Kaitlin received at Children’s Specialized Hospital, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. Kaitlin has been walking since the age of two without the use of a walker or crutches and just her short leg braces.
Thanks to the miracles performed at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country, kids like Kaitlin are given a chance. In Kaitlin’s case, it’s our chance to enjoy the bright smile and infectious personality she shares with all who meet her.
It’s amazing how easy it is to celebrate Kaitlin and others like her by supporting the efforts to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. For example, all it takes is a visit to your local Dairy Queen on August 5th to order a Blizzard Treat, and you’ll know that you are contributing funds so miracles can happen every day in children’s hospitals across the country.