Visit by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Inspires Children, Families, and Staff

rockIn town to serve as emcee for the Christmas in Washington concert, which benefits Children’s National, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson visited children in the hospital on Dec. 13. (See more photos.) From babies to teens, children (and adults) of all ages were touched by his generosity, compassion, and humor. One patient beat him in arm wrestling; another read a poem that she had written just for him.

Johnson stops to take a photo with NICU nurses.
Johnson stops to take a photo with NICU nurses.

Posting on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, he noted one particular girl who inspired him: “Every once in a while we meet very special children who teach us about the things that really matter in life – kindness, gratitude, laughs and love. My buddy Katherine was one of many brave children I had the true pleasure of meeting here at Children’s National in Washington, DC. I say it often and I feel it down in my bones – this is by far the best part of my job.”

One of the most popular professional wrestlers of all time, Johnson is among the most successful actors in Hollywood, most recently appearing in “Hercules.” He currently has a reality show on TNT called “Wake Up Call,” in which he helps people turn their lives around to achieve their dreams. Christmas in Washington will air on TNT on Dec. 19 at 8:00 pm. View more photos here.

Redskins’ Ryan Kerrigan Spreads Cheer to Kids

Redskins player Ryan Kerrigan visits patients at Children's National on Dec. 9 during the annual "Ryan's Reindeer Rush."
Redskins player Ryan Kerrigan visits patients at Children’s National during the annual “Ryan’s Reindeer Rush.”

Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan surprised patients at Children’s National on Dec. 9, signing autographs, taking pictures, and giving footballs and Redskins collectables to kids and families being treated at Children’s National.

This was Kerrigan’s second visit to the hospital as part of his annual “Ryan’s Reindeer Rush,” a holiday program organized by the Ryan Kerrigan’s Blitz for the Better Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to better the lives of critically and chronically ill and special needs children throughout greater Washington area.

“It feels great to be able to spend a day with these kids and help them get in the holiday spirit,” Kerrigan said. “It’s nice to see the impact we are making through the smiles on their faces. That’s what Blitz for the Better Foundation is all about. We want to give support, not only physically and monetarily, but give a boost to morale as well.”

El Zol Breaks National Fundraising Record for Spanish Radiothons

El Zol 107.9 team unveil the present the check for $858,794 to Children's National. El Zol is now the largest Spanish radiothon in the country.
The El Zol 107.9 team presents the check for $858,794 to Children’s National. El Zol is now the largest Spanish radiothon in the country.

El Zol’s seventh annual radiothon raised a record-breaking $858,794 for Children’s National, a 37 percent increase from last year’s event. The El Zol Radiothon officially broke the record for most raised at a Children’s National radiothon, and the station now holds the title of the largest Spanish radiothon in the country.

The three-day event took place Dec. 4-6 at the main atrium of the hospital, where several patients, families, doctors, and nurses participated in a day filled with inspirational stories.

“We are so proud to partner with the entire El Zol 107.9 family and are grateful for their contribution to ensure that Children’s National can provide the same level of care to all children in our community,” said Megan Summerford, assistant director for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Children’s National. “We look forward to more success in 2015 as El Zol continues on its goal to a $1 million radiothon for the kids.”


A Family Tradition of Holiday Giving

IMG_3205On Saturday morning, Harold and Nancy Zirkin continued a family tradition they started three years ago to bring cheer to kids in the hospital. Each year, the Zirkins, their children, and several of their grandchildren, make a special trip to Child’s Play, a local toy store, and choose the perfect gifts for children. Together, they deliver $10,000 worth of toys to Dr. Bear’s Holiday Toy Shop at Children’s National, where parents and other caregivers select toys for their children, at no charge. During a stressful time when parents may not have time to shop outside the hospital, Santa’s Toy Shop allows them to stay close to their children and celebrate the season.

“I recall driving home from holiday shopping for my grandchildren several years ago and thinking, they already have everything they could possibly need,” Harold said. “But we knew there were so many other children who might not get gifts. We hope that through this tradition, our grandchildren will come to see the joy in giving to others.”

The Zirkins began their partnership with Children’s National over 35 years ago, and Harold is now a member of the investment committee for Children’s National.

Children’s National Named DC’s “Most Powerful Brand”

logoThanks to the support of donors and other supporters, Children’s National is expanding its reach and influence, enabling us to provide the best possible care for every child we serve.

In a ceremony on Dec. 11, the Washington Business Journal named Children’s National Health System as the Most Powerful Brand and its President and CEO, Dr. Kurt Newman, as one of the Most Admired CEOs of 2014 in the Washington metropolitan region. Children’s National was selected as the Most Powerful Brand from among 20 nominees representing well-known business and nonprofit brands throughout Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

Dr. Newman was recognized among a group of CEOs representing various businesses from finance to healthcare who exhibit the high level of leadership and skill it takes to be a successful CEO. Read more.

Thank you for your role in making Children’s National a world-class institution and supporting our mission to improve the lives of children everywhere.

Easing the Burden for Families Living with Advanced Illness

PANDA PictureMore than 180 participants gathered at Children’s National in November for the annual Joshua Stouck Memorial Pediatric Palliative Care Symposium, which highlighted the importance of relieving the pain and suffering of children living with serious illness.

Sarah Friebert, MD, FAAP, FAAHPM of Akron Children’s Hospital, an international pediatric palliative care pioneer, kicked off the event by discussing the current state of pediatric palliative care and the need for this type of care globally so that children with serious illness can have greater quality of life.

To palliate means to “ease the burden of,” and the PANDA Palliative Care Team at Children’s National works to do this each day by preventing, reducing, and soothing symptoms for children in the advanced stages of illness. The multidisciplinary team of physicians, advanced-practice nurses, social workers, case managers, and therapists provides individualized care and counseling for children and families confronted with serious illnesses.

Through tailored palliative care, which includes but is not exclusive to end-of-life care, the PANDA Palliative Care team works with patients and family members to ease medical, emotional, psychological, social, and spiritual burdens. They listen carefully to determine and deliver the right care at the right time, provided concurrently with disease-directed therapies.

The symposium included an interactive theater presentation by Theater Delta of Chapel Hill, N.C., on how clinicians can effectively communicate with families in the face of advancing illness, as well as a panel of local community hospice experts who discussed the value of compassionate end-of-life care so that children experience the least amount of suffering possible. Stacy Remke, MSW, LICSW, A CHP-SW, closed the symposium with practical advice on how healthcare providers can care for themselves when faced with the daily challenges of working with patients and families with serious illness.

Jerry Stouck and Mindy Buren made the annual symposium possible by creating the Joshua Stouck Critical Care Endowment to educate care providers about effective communication with parents. It was formed in memory of the Stouck’s late son, Joshua, who passed away when he was 4 years old. In addition to funding the memorial fund, Jerry Stouck co-founded the DC Lawyers’ Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $1 million for critical care medicine at Children’s National.

New Radiothon Partner Raises $35,000+

Thanks to their inspiring generosity of the B101.5 listeners, we raised $35,559.15 for Children's National.
Thanks to their inspiring generosity of the B101.5 listeners, the first-time radiothon raised $35,559.15.

The first B101.5 Care-athon in Fredericksburg, Va., was an inspiring success — raising more than $35,000 for children and families at Children’s National Health System. The Nov. 14-15 event highlighted the partnership between Children’s National and Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg.

Broadcast in part at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, the event featured several local Fredericksburg families who have been treated by Children’s National physicians at Mary Washington Hospital. The families shared their stories and discussed how important it was to have access to Children’s National specialists in their own backyard.

Board Members’ Kilimanjaro Climb a Triumph for Babies Around the World

Top of Peak

On Thanksgiving Day, after an arduous seven-day climb, Children’s National board members Natalia Luis and Cidalia Luis-Akbar reached the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest-free standing mountain. The climb up the 19,341-foot African mountain was part of the sisters’ campaign to raise money and awareness for the Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National. Their journey symbolized their desire to take fetal medicine to new heights so babies around the world can have the best chance to survive and thrive.

Cidalia’s experience with Children’s National during a challenging personal journey inspired her and her sister to give back in this unique way. All funds raised through the campaign will support earlier, more accurate diagnostics during high-risk pregnancies and help set a new standard of care for fragile newborns. They are halfway toward their goal of $500,000.

Day 6

Upon reaching the summit, Natalia and Cidalia proudly flew the Dr. Bear flag. Natalia said, “Children’s National, as you can see, we’ve realized the dream of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. We are inspired by you and everything you do, every single day.” She added, “Kurt Newman, David Wessel, Adre du Plessis, Catherine Limperopoulos, and all of the miracle workers at Children’s National–we salute you, we’re grateful to you. We love you. Thank you.”

While Cidalia and Natalia have successfully achieved their goal of scaling the mountain, they still need support to reach their fundraising goal for the Fetal Medicine Institute. You can make a secure, online donation here.

Day 1

View the full photo album.

Thank You from Jozlyn: “You Give Me Relief”

Thanksgiving_03Every day this week we’re featuring stories that show how donations directly improve children’s lives.

“When I came to Children’s National,” Jozlyn says, “all I wanted was to be a cheerleader, but I was in too much pain. I received a bone marrow transplant, and my follow-up care ensures that my pain relief is permanent. Now I can join my friends on the sidelines and I’m jumping for joy!”

Jozlyn was born with sickle cell disease and couldn’t participate in many activities, like playing in the snow or going to the pool because of her illness. Sickle cell causes inflammation and tremendous pain, chronic anemia, serious infections, and damage to body organs, which required Jozlyn to spend much of her time in the hospital. But three years ago, Jozlyn had a bone marrow transplant, and is now leading a different sort of life.

She’s back at school and is a cheerleader, and is enjoying all that life has to offer. To see how donations make a difference for children, visit

Thank You: “You Give Me a Way Home”

Children’s National Medical Center “I Care. I Share.”Every day this week we’re highlighting the many ways that donations directly improve children’s lives.

Because of supporters like you, more children are able to go home, where they belong. Thanks to you, children have the best possible chance to get back to health with the best chance for a bright future. To see how donations make a difference for children, visit