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News

Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan Selects 2020 Champion

Kai Diggs
Kai Diggs

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Northern New York is pleased to announce Kai Diggs, 6, of Watertown, as its 2020 Champion!

Each year, 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals across the country identify a champion in their community to serve as the face for children treated at their hospital. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals of Northern New York at Samaritan Medical Center has chosen an annual local champion since last year. The local champion for 2019 was Ryley Weaver, of Carthage.

“Kai has shown incredible bravery and perseverance, all with a smile on his face; he will make the North Country proud,” said Kristin LaClair, Director of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Samaritan. “I’m confident Kai’s story and role as an ambassador will make a real difference for the kids who rely on children’s services at our hospital.”

Kai was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a buildup of fluid in the brain – at age 4. This buildup in his brain’s ventricles was caused by a tumor in his pineal gland, which caused him to undergo emergency brain surgery in 2018. Today, Kai needs regular brain imaging and has countless appointments in Syracuse and Rochester to monitor his condition. Although his happy, energetic personality would not suggest it, Kai suffers from debilitating headaches and other neurological symptoms daily.

Kai Diggs, 6, of Watertown, accepts a medal from Samaritan Medical Center President and CEO Thomas Carman after being named the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on Northern New York’s 2020 Champion.

“It’s hard, every day is hard, but he makes it easy to get through,” said Kianna Diggs, Kai’s mother. “He makes it so you just stay positive. He’s awesome.”

Although he has been through a lot for a 6-year-old, Kai is thankful for the things he has. One of his favorite phrases is “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” He is passionate about music and aspires to be a rap artist – he loves to think of words that rhyme. Kai also loves math, frequently challenging himself with math problems and checking his work on his calculator.

“To know Kai is to absolutely adore him, Ms. Diggs said. “The world is a better place with him in it and now everyone gets to experience Kai’s spirit.”

Kai’s family is assisted through the Direct Family Assistance Program from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Samaritan. This program, which is unique to Samaritan Medical Center, helps families with reimbursement of travel expenses and medical bills during hospitalizations and appointments with specialty doctors.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals offer treatment to millions of sick children nationwide, serving 1 in 10 children in North America each year.

For more information, contact Kristin LaClair, Director of Children’s Miracle Network at Samaritan Medical Center, at 315-785-4053 or klaclair@shsny.com.