Children’s Miracle Network names Royal Oak teen as 2020 ambassador

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published January 21, 2020

 Lexi Zaffrano, 15, of Royal Oak, is the 2020 Children’s Miracle Network ambassador for Beaumont Children’s.

Lexi Zaffrano, 15, of Royal Oak, is the 2020 Children’s Miracle Network ambassador for Beaumont Children’s.

Photo provided by Chris Morrisroe

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ROYAL OAK — For more than a decade, the Children’s Miracle Network has selected a young person to serve as an ambassador for Beaumont Children’s.

On Jan. 1, Royal Oak resident Lexi Zaffarano, 15, began her yearlong term. She will attend events and share her story throughout southeastern Michigan to increase awareness for pediatric programs funded by Children’s Miracle Network.

Medical staff in the pediatric unit at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, have gotten to know her and her family over the last several years.

Zaffarano was thrust into their care for a three-and-a-half-day stint two weeks before her 12th birthday. Prior to that, she reported feeling unwell, being extremely thirsty and having to go to the bathroom constantly. The preteen also lost 20 pounds.

“I’m glad the Children’s Miracle Network were able to help not just me, but my brother and sister,” Zaffarano said. “They brought in a therapy dog, movies, games, and arts and crafts for us to feel more comfortable and to just be kind of ourselves.”

She said the activities helped distract her and her family while doctors were constantly coming in and out, figuring out how to treat her and keep her alive. She was ultimately diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on June 23, 2016.

“(Before getting sick), 2016 was my healthiest year. I was never sick, getting all A’s in school, and it was just a great year,” Zaffarano said. “It was really scary to look in the mirror and be sick and skinny — all bones.”

After she was diagnosed, Zaffrano said Beaumont Children’s staff taught her and her family everything they needed to know about Type 1 diabetes and how to manage her lifelong condition.

“It is definitely challenging (to manage), especially at this point of my life, being a teenager,” she said. “But I think that Beaumont can help, and I can always fall back on them as a support system to help keep our schedule normal and be normal people.”

While there is currently no cure, Zaffrano said she is excited about ongoing research.

She said she was proud and honored to be considered for the position of the Children’s Miracle Network’s 2020 ambassador for Beaumont Children’s.

“It just makes me really happy,” she said. “I get to help kids in the hospital and make it an amazing place to be, grow and expand in so many different ways.”

She said she would love to make a career out of public speaking or sharing her story to help others.

“I always joke around and say I’m going to take (Beaumont Children’s Child Life Supervisor) Kathleen Grobbel’s job,” Zaffrano said. “I love what she does. I definitely do see myself continuing on the path I’m on right now.”

Sarah Grutza, director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Beaumont Children’s, said the role of the teen ambassador includes speaking at corporate fundraisers, raising awareness about the work the CMN does, and partnering in TV and media spots.

“Lexi is mature beyond her years. She is not afraid to talk to anybody, and she’s also incredible on camera. She’s not nervous at all,” Grutza said. “Lexi lights up any room she is in, and we are thankful that she will be with us this year as we look to promote and fundraise for CMN.”

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a nonprofit organization that supports 170 member hospitals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Beaumont Children’s has been the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in southeast Michigan since 1988, and all donations made in the area fund programs, services, pediatric equipment and scholarships for families in need, according to Beaumont’s website.

For more information, visit www.beaumont.org/services/childrens/about/childrens-miracle-network.

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