“Greatest Gala on Earth” Salutes Nursing

Categories: Events

This year, Connecticut Children’s 2019 Gala will take place on Saturday, November 2. It’s billed as the “Greatest Gala on Earth” and will salute the nurses who care for children like Nick Stratton. Proceeds from the Gala’s “Bid for Kids” appeal will benefit the Nursing Department and, ultimately, all patients who receive care at Connecticut Children’s.

Nick has been hospitalized so many times over the past 10 years, his parents, Bill and Kristy, have nearly lost count. But one thing is certain: Nick’s mom and dad appreciate the high-quality, comforting care their son receives whenever his medical condition brings them back to Connecticut Children’s.

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Nick’s Care Journey

Jodi Simlick, RN loves being a nurse and is honors that she and her colleagues are being honored as the beneficiaries of Bid for Kids at The Great Gala on Earth
Over the years, Nick has been a patient on the 7th floor of the Medical Center numerous times. He is pictured here with Jodi Simlick, RN, who has worked on this inpatient floor at Connecticut Children’s for more than 18 years.

For Nick, a happy child with an infectious smile, hospitalizations at Connecticut Children’s have averaged about two per year over his lifetime. “I know we do this at least a couple of times a year,” said Bill Stratton, Nick’s dad. “He usually is admitted from the Emergency Department (ED). Most of his admissions are seizure related.”

Nick, who will enter the fifth grade this fall, will be 10 years old in September.

The visits to Connecticut Children’s began when Nick was about six months of age. He had dropped his head and hit it on a table at a restaurant. And then it happened again at their Manchester home, prompting a trip to the Emergency Department.

Following a three-week hospital stay, Nick was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy called infantile spasms. “He would have 20-30 spasms a day,” Bill said. “Nick wouldn’t cry; he would just shut down.”

At its peak, Nick experienced seizures 50-60 times a day; but the biggest occurred when he was 5 years old. “We went into his room at 4 in the morning and he was having a seizure,” Bill said. “We gave him his emergency medicine and called the ambulance to take him to the ED.”

This time, the seizure affected his breathing. After some tense moments, the ED staff was able to revive him. Once his heart rate came up, he was admitted to pediatric intensive care, where he spent the next two-and-a-half weeks.

The Best Nurses & The Greatest Gala

Because Nick’s communication is limited, Bill said it is difficult to know when a seizure is imminent. Nick now has what are called “focal seizures,” which affect a specific area of his brain. What triggers them is the question. “They just come out of nowhere,” Bill said. Those seizures, which vary in intensity, bring Nick back to Connecticut Children’s for medication adjustments about twice a year.

The Stratton Family
Nick with his parents, Bill and Kristy, and his 16-year-old brother, Nathan.

In addition to his Neurology appointments, he is also seen regularly in Orthopedics. Nick, who is a big fan of racing and music—and an even bigger fan of the Hartford Yard Goats and Hartford Wolf Pack—has cerebral palsy. This fall, he will be fitted for a cast on his right leg to help with his gait and muscle stiffness.

“We have had a very positive experience with Nick’s nursing care,” Bill said. “I think the interactions nurses have with him are very comforting. When he is hospitalized, they will often sit down on the bed next to him to reassure him. It’s these types of interactions that remind us we are in the right place.”

Without question, nurses are central to the high-quality, patient and family care experience that families like the Strattons have come to know at Connecticut Children’s. And this year, Connecticut Children’s Gala will shine a spotlight on that care.

Big Night Under the Big Top

The Stratton family shares their story at HuskyTHON, a CMNH Dance marathon supporting Connecticut Children's
Nick, who will be entering the fifth grade this fall, participates in many Connecticut Children’s fundraising events, including HuskyTHON, QTHON and Concorso Ferrari & Friends. He is pictured here with his mom and dad at the QTHON dance marathon held in February 2019.

It will be a big night under the Big Top for audiences of all ages, when Connecticut Children’s presents the “Greatest Gala on Earth” at the Connecticut Convention Center on Saturday, November 2.

Inspired by “The Greatest Showman,” the 2019 Gala is chaired by Amy Dillon and will feature circus games, unique acts from Nimble Arts and a musical performance by the Fairfield County Children’s Choir. The night’s festivities also include live and silent auctions.

The night will unfold with a pre-event reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and top-line entertainment.

Rounding out the night, Flipside—a Best-of-Boston, seven-piece band—will bring attendees to their feet with a diverse repertoire of dance music, including Top 40, Classic Rock and sounds from the ’80s and ’90s.

This year’s Greatest Gala fundraising goal is $1.2 million. Proceeds from the “Bid for Kids” appeal will benefit Connecticut Children’s Nursing Program. Honorary co-chairs are Melanie and Thomas O. Barnes and Cheryl Hoey, RN, BSN, MBA, and Matt Hoey.

“Bid for Kids” at The Greatest Gala

Support for “Bid for Kids” will help Connecticut Children’s nurses continue to improve the lives of the children and the families who rely on their care and compassion for the best possible outcomes.

Nick Stratton has an infectious smile and is excited about The Greatest Gala on Earth in support of Connecticut Children's
Nick Stratton, who has been a patient at Connecticut Children’s for the past 10 years, is a happy child with an infectious smile.

“Bid for Kids” will help provide Connecticut Children’s nurses with necessary resources for nursing research and innovation, fellowships, residencies, scholarships and more.

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In April 2019, the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program® confirmed nursing excellence at Connecticut Children’s. Considered the gold standard, Magnet designation recognizes quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Presently, only 7 percent of hospitals nationally have earned this designation.

But if there were any question as to how special Connecticut Children’s nurses are, just ask the Stratton family. “The care and support the nursing staff provides to families like ours every day is truly an invaluable service and something you have to see to believe.” Bill said. “They are appreciated by our family on many different levels.”

Want to learn more about Connecticut Children’s 2019 Gala?

Visit the Gala homepage by October 25 to be a sponsor, reserve a table, buy tickets, donate an auction item or make a gift in support of “Bid for Kids.”