A representative from Children's of Alabama holds a sign in support of James Strong.
Hoover teen James Strong, the 2015-16 Children’s Miracle Network ambassador for the state of Alabama, left Birmingham for Orlando Tuesday morning to represent the state in the Ambassador Tour at Walt Disney World.
“We’re so excited for him to be a part of this special event and really just get the red carpet treatment,” said Cayleigh Cummings, community development coordinator for Children’s of Alabama.
In Florida, Strong and his family will help spread the word about Children’s Miracle Network and why children’s hospitals need financial support. Kim Mitchell, Strong’s mom, said they look forward to representing the state and Children’s of Alabama as well as reconnecting with other families in the Children’s Miracle Network.
Strong was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, a condition that prevents fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord from draining, before he was born. Doctors said then he could be deaf, mute, blind, disabled and mentally incompetent and that he would not live past the age of 3.
He has now undergone more than 20 surgeries and is 14 years old. Strong also has cerebral palsy, Dandy-Walker syndrome and a spinal tumor, but he remains active in wheelchair basketball, Miracle League Baseball and tennis. His motto is “Go strong or go home.”
“In the midst of everything he’s been through, he’s a fighter,” Mitchell said. “So James Strong earned his name, the strong one, because he’s just that.”