When Only The Best Will Do

photo of Connor

While recovering from surgery at our previous home Children’s Memorial Hospital, Connor met his idol — Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood.

Connor Goodman’s mom, Kathleen, was six months pregnant when a routine ultrasound indicated some distressing news: her baby had a bowel obstruction caused by an abnormal twisting of his large intestine. What’s more, he would need surgery immediately upon birth to correct it. Connor ultimately underwent two surgeries to correct the condition at the suburban hospital where he was born.

As the years passed, Connor grew to be a happy and healthy young boy, with no medical issues related to his challenges as a newborn.

Suddenly though, when he was 8 years old, Connor began to experience severe stomach pains. Kathleen and Connor’s dad, William, took him to a local hospital’s emergency department, where a battery of diagnostic tests failed to show a cause for his discomfort. A few days later, after seeing Connor doubled over in pain, his parents rushed him to Children’s Emergency Department, which sees 65,000 children each year.

“We brought him to Children’s because we wanted the best doctors to treat him and wouldn’t settle for anything less,” says Kathleen.

Although tests were once again inconclusive, Erin E. Rowell, MD, an attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Surgery, recommended exploratory surgery.

During the surgery, Dr. Rowell and her team discovered that a hernia at the site of the incision from Connor’s newborn surgery had trapped abdominal tissue inside of it, causing him pain. The tissue was freed and the hernia was repaired.

While Connor, a huge Chicago Cubs fan, was recovering from surgery, his mom saw a notice that Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife, Sarah, would be paying a visit to the hospital the next day. It was an amazing coincidence, as Connor had tried repeatedly to get Kerry to sign a baseball he had tossed to Connor at a Cubs game.

Alerted that one of his biggest fans was in the hospital, Kerry greeted Connor like an old friend during his visit. “Kerry was so nice to us, and Sarah was so sweet,” says Kathleen.

Kerry says he and Sarah enjoy visiting with the kids and families at Children’s Memorial. “Seeing a smile on the face of a sick kid or hearing them laugh makes every trip rewarding,” he says.

Kerry and Sarah have generously supported Children’s Memorial for a number of years, through both their fundraising efforts and their personal philanthropy. When the Woods served as honorary chairs and hosts of the first annual Champions for Children’s event in 2009, which raised more than $400,000 for the hospital, Connor surprised Kerry and Sarah by presenting them with an award in recognition of their longstanding support.

“Sarah and I have a special place in our hearts for Children’s,” says Kerry. “We’ve seen the work they do, the lives they save and the families they help.”

Kathleen remains grateful for the care Connor, now 11, received at the hospital. “We will forever be indebted to Children’s,” says Kathleen. “Everyone is so compassionate at the hospital, and we in Chicago are so fortunate Children’s is there if we need it.”

Story originally appeared in the April 2011 issue of Heroes Update.  ​​​