Telling Their Stories
Cook Children's patients serve as patient ambassadors within our communities
At Cook Children's, we focus on more than great care. We go above and beyond to create the best patient experience possible. Some patients are so inspired by their time at Cook Children's that they feel called to give back.
In 2018, we created the Cook Children's Patient Ambassador program. This program gives our patients the opportunity to give back by sharing their story with our donors and at community events. In the four years since this program was created, our patient ambassadors have inspired thousands of people and found confidence along the way.
Each year, staff from across the health care system nominate patients between the ages of 5 and 18 for the program. Ambassadors not only have different diagnoses, but very different journeys altogether. Some patients spent just a few days at the medical center, while others called Cook Children's their second home. Some live just down the street, while others travel across state lines to participate.
Once the ambassadors are selected, they start by participating in a photo and video shoot. They are photographed with props that are meaningful to them and representative of their journeys, such as art pieces they created during their stay, a blanket they brought to every treatment or the teddy bear that comforted them after a surgery. They also get to step in front of video cameras and tell their story. Their families are also invited to participate because they are, after all, a huge part of their child's journey.
"It's important to us that we capture the unique personality of each ambassador," said Erin McDonald, our Children's Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN) manager who oversees this program. "We are amazed at the strength of these kids, and their stories inspire us and our donors time and time again. We are honored by their desire to give back."
These photos and videos are used to create inspiring content for donors to engage with throughout the year. This content is used across various mediums, such as social media, our website and this very magazine. Our ambassadors may walk into a store or restaurant in their hometown and see a poster with their picture on it, helping to promote giving back to Cook Children's, or they could be visiting the medical center and see themselves on banners on the light poles that line the sidewalks of the campus.
As part of their official responsibilities, ambassadors also share their stories at local events and fundraisers that benefit Cook Children's. In order to empower ambassadors and their families to share their stories, our staff coaches them in public speaking. With each appearance they make, their confidence grows, as does the number of people they inspire.
Perhaps the most meaningful part of this program is the lasting impact it has on the ambassadors. While we benefit from their involvement, this program gives back to them as much as they give to us. The ambassadors find confidence and empowerment in sharing their stories, and many even choose to start their own philanthropic events and foundations as a result of their experience.
Our Patient Ambassador program is possible because of gifts like yours. Give today!