Children's Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 hospitals across North America that treat 10 million kids a year.
Mike and Paty Ruud are parents to a 10-year-old boy named Michael, who was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Apert's syndrome. It causes children to be born with bones in their bodies fused where they shouldn't be.
In the case of Michael, he was born with his hands, toes and three skull plates fused together.
"We always tell him that everyone is born different. People have different colored eyes, different colored hair. Some are tall and some people are short," said Mike in a spotlight video on his son. "So, he has always gone through life knowing he was born different just like everyone else is born different."
To date, Michael has had 21 surgeries to correct these fusions. In their eyes every single surgery feels the same.
"All surgeries bring risks. Being a mother, I am always nervous, but I trust the doctors," said Paty.
The biggest miracle for her with her son's procedures was after the first surgery.
Since Michael's skull plates were fused together, he didn't feel like smiling very much due to pressure on the brain. When he was 5 months old he under went his first surgery to separate those skull plates to give his brain room to grow.
"After that surgery it was like his brain was free and he smiled," she said.
"And I think he hasn't stopped smiling since," his father added.
Another goal Mike and Paty had for their son was by his first birthday he would be able to eat his birthday cake. The surgery that separated his fingers gave him the ability to smash his birthday cake by himself.
"We try to remind Michael that with every surgery we are trying to give him the ability to do the things he wants," said Mike.
Though Michael gets nervous, he understands that his parents are trying to help give him the best opportunities.
Michael has taken advantage of every opportunity. He enjoys playing soccer, baseball, basketball and riding his bike. He especially likes to play his PlayStation 4, and even participates in a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise money for the hospital that cares for him, a Children's Miracle Network Hospital. To be honest, Michael is just like any other 10-year-old.
"I want others to think when they meet Michael that he is a happy boy and that he can do every task placed before him," Paty said. "He isn't different. He can do it."
"If you asked Michael how he feels to be different he would say he doesn't feel different, and that he is a normal kid," added Mike.
Just like any other kid, Michael's dream of what he wants to be when he grows up always changes.
"The other day we were watching a NFL football game, and he said to me he wanted to be a football player," said Mike. "On a serious note, he has mentioned several times that he wants to help other kids, like be a doctor."
Michael will be working to help raise donations for his local children's hospital by participating in the Extra Life video game marathon. To help support Michael in his quest to help raise funds, Click here to visit his Extra Life donation page.
Mike and Paty advise other parents to not take anything for granted. You never know when the life of your child will change. Cherish all the moments you have.
"To raise a kid who is different takes so much strength," said Paty. "Strength you didn't realize you had until it happens."
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals doesn't just help families with children who are born with problems, but families who confront all types of problems as well. This could range from cancer to breaking a bone by falling off of a playground.
Donations made to Children's Miracle Network stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care.
Children's Miracle Network raises funds to stock children's hospitals with the necessary equipment to help to provide stability to all families dealing with the extremes of their child's health.