Little “Superhero” named this year’s Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Kentucky Champion


Brian Jones, an employee at Legacy All Sports, helping Harry off the giant blow up slide while the Wildcat waits to go with Harry on the next slide run at Harry Hilton’s Send Off Party at Legacy All Sports on Saturday, September 21, 2013, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Kalyn Bradford

By Will Wright

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At 9 weeks old, Harry Hilton was rushed to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital with a rare autoimmune disease called Kawasaki Disease.

Now at 4 years old, Harry has been named this year’s Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals Kentucky Champion.

The CMN picks one child from each state who has received treatment from a CMN hospital to be a champion, and rewards them with a trip.

“You don’t feel like you deserve it, you know?” said Erin Hilton, Harry’s mother, at the send-off party at Legacy All Sports on Saturday afternoon.

Harry and the champions from other states will visit Washington D.C. and Disney World, where they will meet with celebrities and politicians.

“(My husband and I) try to get him to comprehend what the hospital did for us,” Erin Hilton said. “Try to explain to him that there are a lot of other children who need help.”

After two relapses, Harry is healthy, active and has a love for superheroes.

“He was a really, really sick little guy,” said Doug Schneider, Harry’s cardiologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “But we were always optimistic he would pull through and be an awesome little superhero.”

Mike Hilton, Harry’s father, said his son’s illness was terrifying.

“We were new parents,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about anything.”

Mike and Erin Hilton came home from dinner to find Harry with a high fever, so they took him to a nearby hospital.

The hospital diagnosed and began treatment within 12 hours of their arrival to the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

“They managed his care, but they also managed our emotions incredibly well,” Mike Hilton said. “They took extra steps to make sure we understood everything and we were okay.”

Normally, once a patient is diagnosed and treated for Kawasaki Disease, it never appears again, but Harry’s case was unusual. Harry relapsed twice after the initial treatment.

“As bad as he got, he got atypically good again,” Mike Hilton said. “Normally when you do an angiogram you see a scar on the artery, (but with Harry) there isn’t one.”

The Hilton family was notified of Harry’s nomination for this year’s CMN Kentucky Champion award just a week before the deadline to accept and take the trip to Washington D.C. and Disney World.

In 2012, CMN Hospitals raised more than $300 million for local children’s hospitals, according to a release from CMN.

Children’s hospitals have raised $4.7 billion since 1983 one dollar at a time, and continue to encourage more donations.

“When a family comes in and their child is sick, it’s the hardest part of their lives,” said Jason Grabham, Harry’s sonographer and manager of pediatric and fetal echocardiography at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “The bonds you build with these families are life long. It’s more than just treating a patient.”

The party for Harry was held at Legacy All Sports on National Gymnastics Day.

The gym has raised money for CMN for five years on Gymnastics Day, pulling in $7,500 last year, Legacy All Sports manager Heath Underwood said.

“We take kids in every day that are so fortunate to be healthy,” Underwood said. “(Some) can’t come in and do this like most kids.”

Jenna Day, also known as Miss Kentucky, and UK’s mascot Scratch were at the party to support CMN and Harry.

Day said she had met Harry before, and she was happy to see him given this award.

“I’m super excited, and this is a great thing they’re doing here today,” Day said. “It’s been a lot of fun getting to watch his journey.”