Niswonger Children’s Hospital patient featured on national television
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Some moments are so precious, they just have to be shared. Nine-year-old Niswonger Children’s Hospital patient Drew Warrick was part of one of those moments recently, and when Kim Guilfoyle of Fox News got wind of his story, she felt compelled to share it with the rest of the world.
“This is a really great story; you know I love children,” she said during Monday’s “One More Thing” segment on Fox News’s “The Five.”
Guilfoyle then shared the story of how young Drew was able to meet his idol, Peyton Manning, during the recent Niswonger Children’s Hospital Golf Classic. She showed the national audience a photo that captured a moment between Drew and Manning that was simply priceless.
Drew came to the golf classic on June 30 with his mother and his 6-year-old sister, Waverly, to talk about their experience with Niswonger Children’s Hospital – the place where both Drew and Waverly had spent many days and nights receiving critical care throughout their young lives. The family had been invited as guests of honor for the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Golf Classic, the largest single annual fundraiser for the hospital serving 29 counties in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Manning is a regular participant in the event, held just two hours down the road from his alma mater, the University of Tennessee. He was joined this year by a host of other sports celebrities, including Dan Marino, Jason Witten, DeAngelo Hall, Phillip Fulmer, Frank Beamer, Bruce Pearl, Ken Whisenhunt, and Corey Pavin.
During a press conference before tee time, Drew’s mother, Taylor Morgan, got up to tell the family’s story. Born 5 weeks premature, Drew spent the first 30 days of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Niswonger Children’s, and ongoing medical issues have made him a frequent visitor there in the years since. Waverly was born with a cleft palate and has undergone numerous surgeries and hospitalizations for pneumonia and sinus issues.
Thanks to the hospital, Morgan said, her son has grown from a fragile premature infant into a strong and vigorous sports fan, and there’s no one he idolizes more than Peyton Manning.
“He has everything Peyton Manning in his room,” she said about her son. “All the kid wanted this past Christmas was a Peyton Manning jersey. We said, ‘Drew, isn’t there anything else?’ – ‘That’s all I want, mama.’ So we got him two.”
From his seat on the risers with the other celebrities, Manning looked down at the boy, who beamed up at him. The photo of that moment, taken by Bristol Herald Courier photographer David Crigger, captures the connection between the two and the obvious emotions that both were feeling at the time.
Then in a heartfelt turn, Morgan directly addressed the group of celebrities seated behind her, including Manning himself.
“I appreciate you all being here,” she said. “All of you high profile human beings – you guys have taken time from your lives to be here today and to make a difference. …It makes a difference for a mom like me who struggles. God has given you a very important job, and to know that you’re here means so much to someone like me and to other mothers.
“We all need more humanity and compassion in our hearts to continue to give money or your name and your time to an area that desperately needs it. We desperately need Niswonger Children’s Hospital and all the doctors and nurses and equipment in it. A building where there are mothers and fathers who are holding onto the hope that something will change in their child’s health, and because of you being here today, it will.”
After the presentation, Drew looked as though he might burst with joy as he posed for a picture with Manning. And yes, he got the autograph he had so desperately hoped for. He later described the experience as the best day of his life.
“I will never ever forget this day for as long as I live!” he told him mom.
Known more for his intense and cerebral approach to offense strategy than his displays of emotion, Manning seemed to connect with Drew and his sister that day in a remarkable way.
“When we were leaving the golf course, we were kind of off by ourselves up in the parking lot, and Peyton was walking back to the greens. He yelled, ‘Bye, Drew!” and Drew turned around and said ‘Bye Peyton, see you later!’ The people who witnessed that, including me, laughed out loud, as if Drew was suddenly Peyton’s best friend and he just casually says bye to Peyton Manning! It was the sweetest moment.”
For more information about the Niswonger Children's Hospital Golf Classic and a list of other celebrities in attendance, visit www.niswongergolf.org.