Connecticut Children’s is celebrating National Superhero Day on April 27 to honor superheroes, both real and fictional.
Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk and Spiderman are just some of the superheroes whose names we recognize. Even though they are fictional, these superheroes are great role models for our children. They serve and protect while fighting evil.
At Connecticut Children’s, our real-life superheroes may not have super powers or wear capes, at least not every day, but they are also great role models who serve and protect while fighting evils of childhood diseases. Our patients, volunteers, donors and care providers are just a few of the heroes who inspire us on a daily basis.
2018 Connecticut Children’s Superheroes
A Superhero Volunteer:
Here’s something to think about: Superheroes never get paid for their work. They’re all volunteers.
So, when it comes to acknowledging superheroes at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, volunteers are high on the list. And among volunteers, few stand as high as Amy Dillon. “Amy is a rock-star volunteer who is deeply passionate about the mission of Connecticut Children’s,” says Bree Pelczar, the Director of Philanthropic Events at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation.
Amy has been involved with “vie for the kids” fundraisers for 10 years and was the chair for Nate’s Junior Warrior Run and the “vie for the kids” dinner. For most people, that would be involvement enough, but Amy didn’t stop there. She took on the huge job of being Design Vice Chair for the Connecticut Children’s Gala in 2017, which was not all glitz and glamour: She spent hours calling vendors, designing the invitation and PowerPoint presentation and assembling table centerpieces. She returned to the Gala in 2018 as Co-Chair of the Planning Committee.
Read more about Amy
On top of all that, she was a “cuddler” in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit last year and a patient ambassador for the Gideon Wells Walk-a-Thon in November (all three of her daughters have been patients at Connecticut Children’s).
“Connecticut Children’s is a very special place for my family,” she says, “and we feel like we want to do anything we can to help. It’s been a lot of fun, whether it’s asking for money to being an event planner or just being a volunteer at the Geno Auriemma Golf Tournament. But there are so many volunteers here who do so much more than I do; I’m really humbled being around all these people.”
And that’s the other mark of a superhero: modesty in the face of great achievement.
Superhero Care Providers:
James Moore, MD, PhD,
Division Head of Neonatology
To countless parents whose premature or critically ill babies have received the expert, life-saving care provided in Connecticut Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), Dr. Jim Moore is as super as they come! Although he doesn’t wear a cape, he is a hero to many.
Each year, nearly 1,000 newborns are admitted into Connecticut Children’s NICUs from hospitals across the region. Very sick babies with complex conditions find their way to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, where Dr. Moore and his team provide highly skilled neonatology care in our Level 4 NICU in Hartford and our Level 3 NICU in Farmington.
Read more about Dr. Moore
For Leslie and Lane Coonrod, Dr. Moore and his team are all superheroes. Their son, Garrison, who was born 13 weeks premature, weighed just 2 lb, 5 oz on arrival. He spent the first 70 days of his life in Connecticut Children’s Level 4 NICU, overcoming multiple medical challenges. Today, at 18 months, he is as happy and as healthy as any parent could wish. “Dr. Marilyn Sanders and Dr. James Moore and the nurses were all incredible. They made it as painless as possible,” Leslie said.
In addition to saving young lives, Dr. Moore was recently awarded the prestigious Richard Rivas Memorial Teaching Award for excellence in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit training and education. Dr. Moore has been actively involved in clinical research focused on necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) – a life-threatening condition affecting premature babies – and has been involved in neonatal education at the national level for more than a decade.
In addition to his phenomenal work as a teacher, researcher and caregiver, Dr. Moore has also been instrumental in growing the number of NICUs around the state supported by Connecticut Children’s neonatologists, fulfilling our mission of providing family-centered care to patients and families in their communities.
Hats off to Dr. Moore for his commitment to Connecticut Children’s and for delivering life-saving care every day to our tiniest and most fragile patients!
David Weinstein, MD
Director of the Glycogen Storage Disease Program
While other superheroes have x-ray vision or can leap tall buildings in a single bound, Dr. Weinstein has an even more useful talent: He saves children’s lives. Dr. Weinstein is the world’s leading expert on glycogen storage disease (GSD), a group of genetic abnormalities that undermines the body’s energy system and which was, until 1971, invariably fatal.
Dr. Weinstein was the first doctor to become a specialist in this disease, and he has trained almost all the other existing specialists. Patients come from 48 countries and five continents to be treated at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Weinstein has helped set up a charity to help families pay for the trip to Hartford, and he travels all over the world to help patients and doctors dealing with this issue.
Read more about Dr. Weinstein
That’s part of the reason he was inducted into the Order of the Smile in 2013. The order is an exclusive and prestigious group whose members are nominated by children around the world as adults “distinguished for their love, care and aid for children.” In being knighted in the order, he joins some impressive company, including Pope Paul John II, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. His nomination was backed by 200 letters from children from 30 countries.
Not only is he a life-saving clinician, but Dr. Weinstein is a formidable researcher. He has been working with several pharmaceutical and biotech firms to develop new drugs and treatments—work that has had remarkable success. In January, the FDA approved a new drug for human trials, all to be conducted exclusively at Connecticut Children’s. He also has a second drug in review with the FDA, and, most promising of all, the FDA just approved human trials of a gene therapy treatment that may actually repair the patient’s genes and make the disease vanish.
Living with this disease places an unimaginable burden on any family, and for them, Dr. Weinstein represents more than health: He represents hope.