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Miracle Makers: Mitchells Inspire Many by Keeping Hope Strong

Outstanding Commitment by Grateful Parents

The Mitchell FamilyThere are no words to describe the difficulty a family faces when they hear that their child will be born with a medical complication. It’s often difficult to figure out how to cope with such an overwhelming challenge, let alone to see that unexpected obstacle in a positive light. Yet Scott and Despina Mitchell see their son Mason, who was born with a life-threatening diaphragmatic hernia, as a miracle to be celebrated.

“There’s something really special about that boy, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mother,” Despina said. “I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s his spirit. He’s so happy and he’s able to connect with people in a really amazing way.”

Mason had his first surgery about 10 days after he was born, in May 2007. Just before little Mason had received his second surgery to repair his diaphragm in December, Despina asked Scott, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could find a way to give back to the hospital, even if it were just one or two thousand dollars?” Scott wholeheartedly agreed. Even though the family was going through a lot, they were determined to try to give back with an event they set in February 2008. Little did they know that just four years later, the Keeping Hope Strong event would have raised nearly $60,000 for Golisano Children’s Hospital.

The Mitchells have made a real and positive impact for Golisano Children’s Hospital in the few short years they have been holding their event. Thanks to the Mitchells, the neonatal intensive care unit where Mason was cared for during his first 56 days of life now has a newly renovated waiting room for families. The Mitchells also purchased pediatric surgical equipment for laparoscopic procedures, which are safer and less invasive for children. At last year’s Gala for Golisano Children’s Hospital, the family made an incredibly generous pledge to purchase a new pediatric anesthesiology machine, which is safer and helps children breathe more easily during surgery.

“We’re in a position now where we’re asked, would you do this again?” said Despina. “The answer is absolutely, we definitely would. We look at this as our destiny. We believe Mason was meant to come to us because we were meant to have these people (from the hospital) in our lives. He has given us the motivation and desire to do something that makes complete sense and has come easily to us.”

This year, the Mitchells have been awarded special recognition for all their hard work. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals have named Mason Mitchell as New York State’s Champion and Ambassador. The family will celebrate with other state champions during a trip to Washington D.C. and Orlando this October.

“If anyone is deserving of such an honor, it’s the Mitchells,” said Betsy Findlay, director of Advancement at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Despina and Scott never cease to amaze me with their eagerness and willingness to help the hospital by sharing Mason’s incredible story and always finding new ways to give back. We’re excited to celebrate and honor such a committed, resilient and inspiring family as the Mitchells.”