Miss Vermont 2021 and former UVM Children’s Hospital patient aims to raise $10,000 for comfort items

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A Vermont woman who wears many hats is using them for good. By ‘hats,’ she’ll wear a tiara one day and a firefighter’s helmet the next. 

Danielle Morse is also using her platform as Miss Vermont to fundraise for children at UVM Children’s hospital, where she was once a patient. At 13-years-old, she needed her appendix out; a fairly common procedure, but life-threatening complications sent her straight to UVM Children’s Hospital in October 2012.

“I remember vividly getting pushed through the halls and just feeling safe. And I remember my first nurse – in the middle of the night – her name is Heather, and she just made me feel comfortable, that’s all a child deserves to have,” said Morse.

The Chief of Pediatrics, Dr. Lewis First, said she not only overcame a challenge, but wanted “to share what they’ve overcome with others and say, ‘it’s going to be okay,'” said Dr. First. Morse also made bracelets for the doctors and nurses who looked after her.

The Children’s Miracle Network named Morse the “Child Champion” after her recovery. Since then, she promised herself she would help care for kids like her own nurses cared for her. She’s championing that cause nearly a decade later.

“I had this one specific blanket that was pink and blue and I had it in every single one of those photos…And i would love every patient to have that experience,” said Morse.

As Miss Vermont, a title she earned in May, the Castleton University graduate has raised more than $2,000 for comfort items – blankets, stuffed animals, and games — for those in need. Dr. First says there’s an even greater need today. 

“There has never been a more challenging time for a child to be in a children’s hospital during a pandemic. Children cannot use our playrooms, children can not circulate, and truly use all of our facilities the way they are designed to be used for their safety and the safety of everyone caring for our patients,” he said.

Morse is bringing the joy and comfort of a playroom right to the kids. But when she helps out, it’s not just coming from Miss Vermont, Morse is a volunteer firefighter of 7.5 years and currently works for the department in Whiting, Vermont. She’s also a future nurse.

“We took a picture of me in my Miss Vermont crown and I captioned it, ‘If 12-year-old ‘D’ could see me right now, she would think I was so cool.” I had that dream of being on the fire department, I had that dream of being Miss Vermont, I just graduated nursing school. I’m following my dreams and they’re coming true and I’m just so thankful for that,” said Morse.

On Saturday, August 7, Danielle will host a dinner dance at the Vergennes Eagles Club. The even starts at 6 p.m. All donations support children at UVM children’s hospital. 

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