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Published on May 23, 2016

MU Children’s Hospital Patient Chosen as National Ambassador

Jefferson City boy named Missouri’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Child

Connor Strope

Despite living with a challenging health condition, fun-loving 10-year-old Connor Strope keeps a positive outlook that serves as an inspiration to everyone he meets. That is one reason Connor was chosen to represent Missouri as the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals’ “Champion Child.”

Connor is a patient at MU Children’s Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. A third-grader at Blair Oaks Elementary School in Jefferson City, he was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta when he was born. Osteogenesis imperfecta is a genetic disorder that can cause weak bones that break easily. It can be treated through surgery, physical therapy and medications to strengthen bones.

Each year, the Children’s Miracle Network designates one champion child per state, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The children serve as ambassadors and help educate the public about Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, hospital members and the financial need of children’s hospitals.

Connor Strope

Children's Miracle Network hospitals Champion Child Connor Strope

“Connor is a resilient young man, conquering many battles in his life, but he does so with a shining smile that is contagious,” said Kristen Fritschie, Children’s Miracle Network coordinator for MU Children’s Hospital. “He and his family will do a fabulous job creating awareness about his story, the care he has received at our hospital and Children’s Miracle Network fundraising. The Children’s Miracle Network directly supports 170 children’s hospitals across the nation.”

Connor has a more severe form of this disease, and he has had at least 10 bone fractures. The first one happened two months before his first birthday. He’s also had multiple surgeries to put metal rods into his femurs — the upper leg bones — and tibias — the lower leg bones — and surgery for skull fractures and an arm fracture.

“Connor’s prognosis is good and his life expectancy is full,” said Daniel Hoernschemeyer, MD, Connor’s pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. “I expect him to be an active adult. Connor is a very active kid, very smiley and our goal is to keep him physically active, by doing so we are helping to increase his bone density and helping his cardiovascular fitness and weight control.”

“It was extremely hard when he was a baby,” said Stacy Strope, Connor’s mom. “We were first-time parents, so that alone is scary. Then to have a baby who could fracture a bone if he sneezed added a lot of stress and worry to the situation. We had family and friends who didn’t want to hold Connor because they were afraid they were going to hurt him.”

Although Connor uses a wheelchair at school and when he is spreading cheer around MU Children’s Hospital, at home he scoots around on his hands and bottom. He loves to spin on his back like a break dancer to release energy and unwind.

“Spinning is just part of his daily routine,” Strope said. “It’s just like running is for most children. He knows his limits.”

As the state’s Champion Child, Connor will have many ambassador opportunities locally and nationally. He and his family will travel with the other Champion children to events in Florida, as well as visit with congressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

“Connor accepts his disabilities without question, and he handles every situation with a smile,” said LeAnn Reeder, child life specialist at MU Children’s Hospital. “He represents strength and attitude over adversity.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT CHAMPION CHILD PROGRAM

Downloads

Download high-resolution photos of Champion Child Connor Strope. (.zip)

To download broadcast-quality video, go to http://muextmedia.missouri.edu/munews/.
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