Teenager with Rare Spinal Tumours is Announced as the 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion

HAMILTON, ON: McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation and Walmart associates from across the region gathered in Brantford to celebrate 16-year-old Natalie Hammond of Burford being named the 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion.

Natalie wearing a yellow Walmart vest standing next to a board with her picture and story.

Natalie Hammond, the 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion representing McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation

Natalie’s inspiring medical journey began when she started to feel severe pain during a dance class that made it difficult to move her body. Natalie had never experienced anything like this before in her years as a competitive dancer.

“The pain became so bad that it was affecting my ability to do simple, everyday things like getting dressed,” recalls Natalie. “I couldn’t even bend over to put my socks on.”

An MRI at the hospital in Woodstock revealed that tumours, a rare form known as myxopapillary ependymomas, were developing in her spinal column. They were putting pressure on nerves, which was causing the pain.

Her pain was so severe that she was taken to the Emergency Department at McMaster Children’s Hospital. After additional scans were conducted, Natalie was placed under the care of the neurosurgical team.

An eight-hour surgery conducted at McMaster Children’s Hospital successfully removed the tumours. Natalie was discharged and returned home after six days at the Hospital. As her pain began to subside, she found herself able to resume most daily activities. While she still experiences pain, Natalie is able to dance competitively again thanks to the ongoing care she receives at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

“She will be monitored for the rest of her life with routine MRIs because this type of tumour has a high chance of reoccurrence,” says Natalie’s mother, Tiffany. “I know that she will continue to receive outstanding care from the amazing teams at McMaster Children’s Hospital.”

Natalie was selected to represent McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation as the 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Champion child because of her resiliency.

“Each year, McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation selects a patient whose strength and courage serves to inspire others,” says Pearl Veenema, President and CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation. “Natalie is a talented young lady whose energy and positive attitude is a wonderful reminder of the resilience of our youngest patients. We hope her uplifting story will encourage the community to support the Foundation and McMaster Children’s Hospital, which provides vital care to patients like Natalie from across south-central Ontario, including Brantford, Brant County and Burford.”

Champions is an awareness program designed to educate communities about Children’s Miracle Network, the important work of its member hospital foundations including McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the financial needs of children’s hospitals.

Children’s hospitals tackle the greatest challenges and see the most critical cases, and this program shines the light on this important work to facilitate financial support. The program honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges, and offers them an opportunity to represent the millions of children treated annually at children’s hospitals across North America.

As part of the Champions program, Natalie will represent McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation as a hospital ambassador (along with 11 other children from hospitals across Canada) at Children’s Hospitals Week in Orlando. Children’s Hospitals Week (March 18 to 24) highlights the importance of children’s hospitals and how donations help kids get the best care when they need it. Children’s Hospitals Week Canada is made possible by the generosity of Presenting Sponsor Walmart, Official Airline Sponsor Air Canada Foundation and Official Sponsor The Brick.

“With the second annual #ChildrensHospitalsWeek in 2019, we’re taking the opportunity to honor not only our Champions and partners, but also the hundreds of children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada who impact the lives of millions of children annually,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “We’re reminded daily of the fact that contributions of all sizes add up to provide critical funding for pediatric medical equipment, services, research and charitable care, and that community donations are vital for local kids in need.”


Media Contact:

Michael Cordeiro
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation
905-521-2100 ext. 73374

About McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation:

McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation, as part of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, provides vital funding to enable the best possible patient care at McMaster Children’s Hospital, including Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre and McMaster University Medical Centre. The Foundation inspires and motivates gifts that fund medical equipment and patient amenities, innovative research initiatives, essential redevelopment of clinical care spaces, and the education and training of health care providers.

McMaster Children’s Hospital is the second largest provider of inpatient pediatric services in Ontario. The Hospital is home to the province’s largest neonatal intensive care unit including supportive maternal care, the largest pediatric mental health program in Canada, and the only inpatient pediatric cancer program in south-central Ontario.

 About Children’s Miracle Network:

Children’s Miracle Network® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals, 14 of which are in Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and research. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, identify your member hospital and learn how you can Put Your Money Where the Miracles Are at http://www.childrensmiraclenetwork.ca and http://www.facebook.com/childrensmiraclenetworkcanada

About Walmart Canada:

Walmart Canada operates a growing chain of 410 stores nationwide serving more than 1.2 million customers each day. Walmart Canada’s flagship online store, www.walmart.ca, is visited by 600,000 customers daily. With more than 85,000 associates, Walmart Canada is one of Canada’s largest employers and is ranked one of the country’s top 10 most influential brands. Walmart Canada’s extensive philanthropy program is focused on supporting Canadian families in need, and since 1994 Walmart has raised and donated more than $300 million to Canadian charities. Additional information can be found at walmartcanada.cafacebook.com/walmartcanada and at twitter.com/walmartcanada.