When nine-year-old Lauren was first introduced to Orlando Health Arnold Palmer, she was only three days old. Following an otherwise uneventful pregnancy and delivery, Lauren’s parents were stunned when a standard test at discharge from Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies showed low levels of oxygen in Lauren’s blood – leading to further tests that detected a congenital heart defect which required open-heart surgery immediately.
Since that day, Lauren’s parents, Melanie and Patrick, have been grateful for the high-level of care Lauren received, as well as the state-of-the-art equipment that is available at Orlando Health. Lauren continues her follow-up care with The Heart Center at Orlando Health
Arnold Palmer and last year had the honor of being selected as the 2020 CMN Hospitals Champion for Orlando Health Arnold Palmer. In this role, she represented not only her medical journey, but the journey of the more than 135,000 children who rely on Orlando Health Arnold Palmer each year, advocating for the need of charitable support for pediatric healthcare.
But like everyone experienced in 2020, her year as Champion looked a bit different than expected. From attending special events via Zoom or recording video messages to share with partners and donors, Lauren was able to step into the role of a digital ambassador to ensure the health and safety of everyone. Like the Flat Stanley campaign, Lauren was even able to share her story and connect with partners via a “Flat Champion” representation of her that travelled across many retail and hospitality partners throughout Central Florida.
Melanie shared that her daily routine when life was ‘normal’ already included sanitizing Lauren’s shoes, lunch box and backpack, as well as ensuring hand sanitizer was always available in a backpack or purse. But when facing the unknowns of COVID-19 early on, she was especially fearful for her family as well as all the other families who have a child who is more susceptible to illness. “These miracle children have fought so hard to be where they are today,” Melanie said. “Our daughter is so strong, and we have weathered storms, but this is not a storm any of us want to have to face.”
For that reason, when given the chance to continue representing the millions of children treated by children’s hospitals annually, and the charitable need of Orlando Health Arnold Palmer locally, the Doubleday family was eager to continue their advocacy with Lauren as the 2021 Champion.
“Getting to see that I could help kids who need healing was my favorite part of being Champion last year,” Lauren shared. “Watching the Flat Champion version of me travelling to different places was also really fun!”