Not every 8-year-old gets an ice cream party to kickoff a trip to Washington, D.C., but Avery Taylor is not just any 8-year-old. Avery, from Edgewood, N.M., is a leukemia survivor and New Mexico's 2004 Ambassador for the Foresters Across American Program, a Children's Miracle Network Program.

Avery celebrated his ambassadorship and his up-coming goodwill trip to Washington, D.C. and Walt Disney World with ice cream, friends and family as well as the doctors who care for him at the UNM Children's Hospital. Dr. Hanrahan and Dr. McKinnel, who both treated Avery, attended the party to celebrate Avery's health and ambassadorship. His celebration was hosted by the Dairy Queen on Montgomery and Louisiana on March 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Avery was selected as a National Ambassador to represent the 17 million children treated by Children's Miracle Network, which is an alliance of premier children's hospitals across the nation. He will join 49 ambassadors from other states to spread the word about the incredible work done at the 170 Children's Miracle Network children's hospitals and the difference the hospitals have made in their lives.

Avery and his family will celebrate his health and ambassadorship with a week-long goodwill trip from March 21 to the 28. The ambassadors are scheduled to have a welcoming party at the Hard Rock Café in Washington, D.C., where he will meet celebrities such as LeAnn Rimes, Miss America, Steve Young, Mary Lou Retton and many others. While in Washington, Avery and his fellow ambassadors will enjoy a tour and event on Capital Hill and the White House. From there he and his family will fly to Walt Disney World in Orlando to participate in the annual taping of the Children's Miracle Network Celebration which airs on Public Access in June.

On Thursday and Friday, March 25 and 26, Avery will participate in a live remote from Orlando. Avery will be heard on the local Citadel radio station 93.3 KOB FM. During this power drive listeners will be encouraged to sign up to collect money over the following weeks to donate to UNM's Children's Hospital. The donations that are collected will be presented at the Children's Miracle Network Radiothon on 93.3 on April 21 through 23.

The Foresters Champion's Across America program is a reminder of the importance of children's hospitals and the dedicated work and care the doctors and nurses give to children like Avery.

Avery was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) at age 6. ALL is the most common malignancy of childhood and usually occurs in children aged 2 to 5 years old. The cause of ALL in children is unknown.

The doctors at UNM Children's Hospital identified a tumor that closed off Avery's trachea, crushed his lung and had grown around his heart. After a spinal tap the doctors concluded there were cancer cells in his spinal fluid, which meant the leukemia was spreading to Avery's brain.

With intense chemotherapy and radiation the tumor was gone in three weeks, but Avery still faced years of treatment and life-threatening complications. Avery completed his chemotherapy treatments in February and is now considered in remission. Although Avery will visit UNM Children's Hospital several times a year for checkups on his cancer, his remission is still a great cause for celebration.

Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children by raising funds for 170 children's hospitals across North America. UNM Children's Hospital is in alliance with Children's Miracle Network to provide the finest care, research and community outreach to New Mexico's children. UNM Children's Hospital cares for more than 57,000 children per year.


Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3322