The Childress Institute partners with many superheroes throughout the year to save injured kids and we wanted to share some of their stories. We’re able to fund research, education and advocacy programs thanks to the generous support of the Childress / Dillon family, and everyday heroes like you. Your donation of any size will give a child a better chance to survive, no matter when or where they are hurt.
We are excited that the Childress/Dillon family is growing this year! Ty and Haley expect their baby girl to arrive in late November and you can honor their new addition with a gift of $33 to send a child to football safety camp.
When Ty was a kid, he loved riding his dirt bike but had to stop after two serious accidents that luckily weren’t life threatening. He fell while riding and got a very deep cut in his leg that was several inches long when a piece of the dirt bike pierced his leg. Later, he broke both bones in his leg. Thankfully, his doctors were equipped with medical treatments that helped him heal quickly.
His grandparents started the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma in 2008 to help seriously injured kids get the best treatment possible when they need it the most across the U.S. Ty was lucky to live in a place that has great EMS and a high level of medical care available 24 hours a day so that when he was injured as a child, he had a great outcome. Not everyone has that fast access. In the race to save more injured kids, the Institute is helping improve those odds.
When Richard and Judy found out that traumatic injury was responsible for the death of more children in the U.S. than all other causes combined and how little attention this crisis was receiving nationally, they knew they had to do something about it. The Childresses teamed up with Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to launch the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. Their goal is to help save the lives of injured children throughout the U.S. and all over the world.
“The Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma will be the focal point of a national movement to improve the level of pediatric trauma care available across the country. We will assemble the right team to conquer this national crisis. The Childress family is committed to making the Childress Institute the leader in pediatric trauma care and will lead the charge on behalf of injured children everywhere.” — Richard and Judy Childress
We are excited that the Childress/Dillon family is growing this year! Austin and Whitney are getting married in December, and you can give $33 in their honor to send a child to football safety camp.
Austin Dillon has visited kids at hospitals across the country, including Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, to share a little cheer. Austin loves spending time with the kids, noting they could grow up to be future crew chiefs and engineers in NASCAR. A childhood injury doesn’t have to prevent them from living a full, productive life.
The Institute provides funding and research so that children like the ones Austin visited can have a chance at a normal life, even after a traumatic injury. Hopefully one day we will be cheering for these kids and all that they will accomplish.
Matthew Alan Gfeller was a passionate young man from an early age. He was a natural leader who was comfortable on stage singing or giving a speech, rallying his friends for a great adventure, planning the next vacation with his brother and sister, or leading his football team onto the field.
On August 22, 2008, Matthew suffered a severe helmet-to-helmet collision during his first varsity football game, causing a fatal traumatic brain injury. Matthew never regained consciousness and died two days later on Sunday, August 24, 2008.
Matthew’s spirit lives on and he will be remembered for living his life with great courage and passion, unparalleled in his dedication to faith, family, friends, food and football. On and off the football field, Matthew was frequently heard saying “I won’t let you down.” By honoring Matthew’s memory, we hope we are keeping his promise.
Lisa La Russo is a paramedic for the American Medical Response of Riverside County, California. After several years of seeing tragic childhood drownings, she created the Splash Medics program solely run by volunteer first responders in Riverside County to teach children and parents that water safety can and will save lives.
She wrote a book called “Toby the Dolphin and Water Safety” and has read it to over 2,000 school children. All members of Splash Medics volunteer their time to participate in readings at schools, children’s programs and going to health fairs.
Thanks to her outstanding service, Lisa received the Childress Institute’s scholarship to attend the 2017 EMS World Expo in Las Vegas, NV. Learn more about her work.
Andrew Jackson is the EMS Chief and Director of Putnam County EMS. He has been working in fire and EMS since 1973 and his whole life has been dedicated to helping others no matter the circumstances. His number one priority is to make sure his staff is the best trained in the EMS field. According to his staff, he makes sure everyone receives the best care while they are in his county.
Chief Jackson is also very involved in the community ensuring all school sports are safe and is the Commander of the local American Legion post. He also teaches CPR to anyone that wants to learn and donates his time when providing emergency education. He is an asset to to his community.
Chief Jackson was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and received our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
We are lucky to know many heroes that are passionate about keeping kids safe and healthy, but Ashley Donahue is high on the list. She is a certified athletic trainer and has covered sports from youth through high school, advocating for kids on both sides of the playing field while upholding the guidelines of North Carolina’s Gfeller-Waller Concussion Act.
In addition to her paid duties, Ashley donates her time whenever possible to help the Childress Institute, whether it’s greeting guests at our local events, as an athletic trainer at regional Heads Up youth football clinics, or as an educator at our sports medicine education courses. She can even be seen in our Player Down! sports injury education video.
Learn more about our work with Ashley in the links above or donate in her honor today!
Freya Whalen works as part of an ALS team for a hospital-based 911 service. She assists with community CPR education, including educating kids. If a child knows how and when to activate the emergency 911 system, they can help save a life. She is also passionate about educating local providers on how they can better help with emergencies involving children. Many providers want to avoid thinking about emergencies involving kids, as it is a high stress call, but it is much less so when they are prepared.
The closest level I pediatric trauma center to Freya’s community is a nearly four hour drive away. During transport they must treat and stabilize the injured children. The adult trauma centers do what they can, but in Freya’s experience, some of the pediatric patients need a more specialized hospital to improve their outcomes.
Freya was the 2016 EMS World Expo Childress Scholarship recipient. Learn more about her story.
Thanks to the leadership of paramedic and sports medicine leader Jeff Hinshaw, the Childress Institute has been able to provide sports medicine continuing education in multiple cities across the U.S. Based on his successful EMS World Expo courses, Jeff developed the hands-on simulation course, which has been adapted for other states. The course brings together coaches, athletic trainers, sports medicine first responders, EMS and emergency department staff to discuss the continuum of athletic injuries, with a focus on concussions, emergency action plans and spinal injury management.
With the support of NC EMS for Children, Jeff was also the brains behind the “Player Down!” youth sports injury and equipment removal video provided to EMS professionals and athletic trainers for continuing education as they prepared for back-to-school sports.
Keito Ortiz is an experienced paramedic, educator and community volunteer in New York that demonstrates a passion for education and the well-being of children. He has given free education demonstrations to new parents on infant/child CPR, as well as CPR lessons to children as young as Kindergarten to reduce fear and prepare them in case of an emergency. He volunteers his time to work with Girl Scout troops discussing emergencies, teaching CPR and safety, all in a down-to-earth, kid-friendly and fun manner that has made a lasting and positive impact.
Keito is a seasoned paramedic who provides an outstanding level of patient care. He has received commendations for saving lives and acting quickly. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of EMS Educators (NAEMSE) and a recipient of its 2016 James O. Page scholarship. Whether it’s giving encouragement to a scared family member, lightening the spirit of an injured child, or gently emphasizing the importance of medicine for an asthmatic child, he always tries to leave a situation better than he found it.
Keito was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and received our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
Chris Napoli is the athletic trainer for Garden City High School in New York. He raises awareness in his community about sports medicine topics ranging from prevention of injuries to rehabilitation. He also covers all high school events for kids ages 13-18, including: football, soccer, field hockey, tennis, volleyball, track, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading, baseball, softball, lacrosse, swimming/diving, and gymnastics. Chris takes care of 200+ athletes during the course of the year. When working with a child, he’s also working with their parents, counselors, and faculty on the individual’s injury. He enjoys helping the injured athlete and family receive the care they need.
Chris received our athletic trainer scholarship to the NYU Langone concussion conference and later led a sports-equipment removal simulation session at our Sports Medicine Education course at NYU Langone.
Jessica Edwards is an EMT who goes above and beyond to connect with her patients and co-workers. She has become known as “the patient whisperer” to her local high-need school, displaying her ability to help the kids while maintaining professionalism.
When she became a paramedic, she also became an ALS provider and CPR/Education coordinator. She is a certified state EMS instructor and teaches two local EMT classes, as well as multiple CPR and first aid lessons a month. Her first major event was at an elementary school science fair. Taking initiative, she secured a bovine heart and developed a unique learning station while also involving other staff members in doing a community CPR demonstration. It was a hit! Over 500 children passed through that day and the kids loved it.
Jessica was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and offered our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
Michael Horwarth is a flight/critical care paramedic who recently relocated from Winston-Salem, NC, to Boston, MA. Before leaving NC, he helped write the fresh frozen plasma (FFP) protocol, as well as developed an intranasal medication administration protocol. According to his coworkers, he has always shown an interest in organizational development, and strives to further his education while improving his clinical skills.
Michael was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and received our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
Michelle Sanders is an EMT and, according to her coworkers, a great asset to Laurens County EMS in South Carolina. She is always ready to learn more to help her patients and the community. We’ve heard from many EMS groups in big and small communities that budgets for continuing education are tight. Getting quality education to the people that keep kids safe in their community is one of our goals.
Michelle is always willing to help others and is instrumental in helping educate new hires and her community. She was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and received our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
Ethan Abel, BA, EMT-P has been a paramedic for more than thirty years and was paramedic of the year in 1990. He is an EMS instructor credentialed in PALS, ACLS, AMLS, and ITLS, and has been involved with the Splash Medics swim safety organization since it started. His lengthy credentials include his involvement with the Riverside County (CA) Emergency Medical Care Committee, the Professional Practice Committee, and the Pediatric Protocol Committee for Riverside County: Intubation and Intraosseous infusion.
Ethan’s vast EMS experience helped the Childress Institute when we met with Congressional leaders in Washington, DC, on Oct. 24, 2017, to encourage participation in the Pediatric Trauma Caucus.
Jim Huettenmueller is an advocate for helping save injured kids emotionally and physically. His coworkers praise him as a mentor and friend, many from when they started out in EMS more than 15 years ago. Jim was nominated for the Childress Scholarship to EMS World and received our scholarship to the PTS Annual Meeting.
Weezie was 11-years-old when she was hit by a car while crossing the street. Emergency responders arrived quickly and transported her to a nearby Level I Pediatric Trauma Center where she was diagnosed and rushed to surgery with a traumatic brain injury, multiple facial fractures, and a hip fracture.
Luckily, Weezie did not have brain damage, but she did see many pediatric specialists during her recovery, including orthopedics, ophthalmology, and neurology. Doctors say that Weezie recovered so well because of the speed in which she received specialized care and her family is eternally thankful.
BB raced motocross and always wore top-of-the-line helmet and safety gear, but at a competition he crashed and fell on his head. He was unconscious and had seizures. The emergency flight team stabilized BB and transported him to a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center where a pediatric neurosurgeon explained that BB had a brain bleed and would require a few weeks in the hospital.
After months of rehabilitation and pediatric care, BB was released for sports and now competes in bicycling and plays soccer. BB’s family urges others to understand the need for more pediatric trauma education for EMS, paramedics, nurses and emergency caregivers so they feel confident about caring for an injured child.
Lara received the call that every mother dreads. Someone from a hospital far away woke her at 6 a.m. to deliver the news that her daughter, Preslee, had been seriously injured in a car accident while visiting family. Preslee’s injuries were extensive: fractured skull; broken leg, arm and wrist; collapsed lungs; lacerated liver; thoracic vertebra compression fractures; and torn neck ligaments. They had to take it one hour at a time.
Over the next few weeks, Preslee received several more surgeries to repair her broken bones, along with the full care of the Level I Pediatric Trauma Center’s staff for her other injuries. After almost a month in the hospital, Preslee was able to travel home with her mother. Although Preslee and her family had a lot of healing to do, her recovery was stellar and she has even resumed gymnastics!
We can all help save more injured kids by supporting efforts to increase trauma readiness with EMS, nurses, doctors and other care in every state.
The Cross family learned how important it is to have appropriately trained first responders and a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center to provide emergency care. Their 15-year-old daughter Meredith was riding her horse without a helmet when she fell off, hitting the back of her head on a concrete pad. She sustained a life-threatening head injury that required emergency air transportation, CT scans and care from pediatric neurosurgeons. Meredith’s care included multiple procedures and surgeries by highly skilled pediatric specialists that were available at a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center.
Because of the expert care she received, Meredith was able to make a full recovery, eventually returning to school and playing in the marching band. In the years since, Meredith still struggles with headaches but she has graduated from high school and is now attending college. Meredith and her family are strong advocates for improving pediatric trauma care and wearing helmets!
Breiner was a 4 1/2 year old energetic kid, who loved fishing, riding his bike, helping anyone who needed help, and playing with his friends and family. He loved life to the fullest and taught many people that along his path while he was here.
Unfortunately, he was hit by a car while riding his bike. The EMS, Trauma Team, Pediatric Surgeons, and so many other healthcare workers fought hard to save his life. There were other plans in place for Breiner and he earned his angel wings on August 17, 2013. He was a joy to be around and is missed very much every day. His family is still in awe of the care he received at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital.
Grace was on her way to the beach when she was in a serious car accident that resulted in a double compound fracture in both leg bones, pelvis broken in four places, pubic bone broken in two places, a broken rib and she was hemorrhaging.
Once she was airlifted and stabilized at a nearby hospital, the real problems started. Grace got a life-threatening infection that was so severe she was transported hours away to a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center for specialized care. After many surgeries and 77 days in ICU, Grace was finally healed.
She is now at Salem College with a 4.0 GPA studying to be a nurse and help others like her.
Joshua was hit by a drunk-driver while riding his bicycle. Although armed with a properly fitted helmet, he succumbed to severe head injuries while being treated at a pediatric trauma center on May 20, 2006. His mother, Luly, turned her family’s tragedy into a passion for bike safety and injury prevention, and is now the Pediatric Injury Prevention Coordinator for Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Safe Kids Northwest Piedmont Coordinator.
Joshua’s family and friends gather each year for the Joshua’s Friends Foundation’s Bike Safety Event. Since its inception in 2007, the event has not only distributed over 2,000 properly fitted helmets to community children, but has increased community awareness and continues to capture the hearts and support of local volunteers and sponsors.
Alex was seriously injured in a car accident. He was rushed to a nearby Level I Pediatric Trauma Center where surgeons worked tirelessly over several days to save his life. Once Alex was stabilized, it became apparent that he would be in a wheelchair and require full-time care.
Although his injuries were life-altering, Alex and his mother worked with pediatric rehabilitation specialists to help Alex regain upper-body mobility and wean him off the feeding tube. Now Alex and his mom are thriving and thankful for the care they received.