Every year, five special kids from the Coulee Region are chosen to be Children's Miracle Network Hospital Heroes. They're going through some tough times medically but are coming out stronger thanks to support from the local community.
One of this year's heroes is Blake Oldham, a three-year-old boy from Black River Falls. This tiny toddler had a tough beginning of life.
He was born at just 1 lb 7 oz, his dad's wedding ring fit over his arm. "I remember they brought him into the room, I had a c section and I couldn't see him," said Blake's mom Alyssa Oldham.
"Basically if you held six sticks of butter that's how much he weighed."
Blake spent the first 89 days of his life in the NICU, having surgery on his esophagus that wasn't connected to his stomach and having a G-tube put in.
But it wasn't until they were back home from the hospital when the scariest moment occurred. He turned gray and stopped breathing. The family called 911 and Blake's dad, Curtis, did CPR to revive him.
Ever since then he hasn't wanted anything by mouth. You can't blame a kid for having a fear of eating after that, not to mention he gets sick at almost every feeding time. Even in the middle of our interview.
That G-tube helps him get enough nutrition to grow into the healthy 29 lb three-year-old he is today. Like a typical toddler he has a pretty normal routine, he plays on his iPad and waits for mom to prepare lunch.
But mealtime is anything but. Every meal he eats is blended in a Vitamix, paid for in part by the Children's Miracle Network.
"It's better than feeding a three-year-old formula," said Alyssa.
A healthy mix of grains, fats, and proteins are blended and fed to Blake through his g-tube.
The whole process takes about an hour. While boisterous Blake sits serenely in the same spot this bagged balanced diet helps him grow big and strong, giving Blake ample time to read and cuddle with mom and giving the Oldham family mini moments that have a big impact.
Children's Miracle Network helped the Oldham family afford the Vitamix blender and paid for food vouchers and transportation costs when they were making weekly visits to the hospital in La Crosse.
Blake is one of five heroes chosen to represent children's miracle network hospitals organization as an ambassador. Throughout the year we will be featuring all of the heroes and their stories and how CMN Hospitals has helped them.
There are many ways you can help; monetary donations are a main resource area kids needing medical assistance. 100% of the money donated goes to local families.
Coming up later this month there's a great way to donate while enjoying a delicious Dairy Queen treat. Miracle Treat Day is Thursday, July 27th, where a dollar from every blizzard sold is donated to CMN Hospitals.