Children's Miracle Network "Champion Child" is from Jefferson City
COLUMBIA - Ten-year-old Connor Strope is Missouri's "Champion Child" for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
There are five Children's Miracle Network hospitals in the state: CoxHealth in Springfield, Freeman Health System in Joplin, MU Children's Hospital in Columbia, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis and St. Louis Children's Hospital in St. Louis.
Every year, the Children's Miracle Network picks a child from each state to become the Champion Child and help educate the public about the hospitals.
"Typically they try to choose little boys and little girls that have a wide variety of diagnoses, and then they bring all of them to be an ambassador," said Kristen Fritschie, coordinator of Children's Miracle Network.
Connor was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. He has had at least 10 bone fractures.
Connor's mother, Stacy Strope, said becoming a Champion Child means a lot to their entire family.
"It just means that we can give back to the hospital that has given us so much over the years. Connor's been coming [to MU Children's Hospital] for 10 years now, and to be able to raise money for the hospital means a lot to us," Strope said.
She said it's comforting knowing the hospital is only about 30 minutes away from where they live.
"You never know when you're gonna need the hospital," Strope said.
Fritschie said she has gotten to know Connor well over the past few years.
"Connor is a delightful little boy. He loves to laugh. He loves to smile. He has a contagious smile so that everyone absolutely loves to be around him," Fritschie said.
Her office submitted Connor to the national headquarters in Salt Lake City as a potential candidate to become the ambassador.
"He's just resilient. He is able to do things that you wouldn't expect," Fritschie said.
She said the Champion Child from 2015 was from Joplin, and one is typically chosen from MU Children's Hospital about every four years.