Fifty-four pediatric patients from every state, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico visited with First Lady Michelle Obama on Monday while raising awareness for children’s hospitals.

The kids are serving as Champions for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and on a weeklong tour of Washington, D.C, and Orlando, Fla. They are sharing their inspiring stories and how local children’s hospitals changed their lives.

The First Lady thanked the Champions for their courage and strength, while accepting their hugs and compliments. On behalf of the group, 4-year-old Carly Kudzia, the Champion from Ohio, presented the First Lady with a card signed by the Champions and a Miracle Bear.

Kudzia is one of 18 children in the United States with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes dysmorphic features, accelerated aging, small stature and a shorter life expectancy. Kudzia, whose personality is anything but “small,” serves as a spokesperson for the disease. CMN Hospitals funds, essential for providing crucial pediatric services, allow her caretakers to collaborate with global experts on progeria and pay for diagnostic equipment.

“These kids will forever remember how warmly the First Lady greeted them,” said Craig Sorenson, chief concepts officer for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

At the White House, Champions also were treated to a special viewing of Disney’s Doc McStuffins. The kids’ television show was introduced by its creator, Chris Nee, whose son’s asthma inspired the show. Champions and their families also visited Capitol Hill to share their stories with legislators from their respective states.

“Our Champions know firsthand the quality pediatric care that can be provided when people donate to their local children’s hospitals. They represent the 10 million kids who are treated for severe illnesses and injuries in our 170 hospitals each year,” said CMN Hospitals’ Sorensen.

Champions will head to Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday to continue sharing their inspirational stories and messages. Accompanying the Champions throughout the trip is Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev, who is serving as the charity’s National Goodwill Ambassador.

The 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals “Champions” program is presented by Delta Air Lines, Marriott International and Chico’s FAS.

To meet the Champion from your state, click here.

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