Children's Health

Snowboard Accident Recovery Paves Way for a Trip to Capitol Hill

12-year-old Patrick Ferris Selected to Represent Michigan

Michigan has a new state representative but he’s not your average politician. He doesn’t have a driver’s license, can’t stay out past 10 p.m. and hasn’t graduated from high school. Patrick Ferris of Grand Haven will represent Michigan on Capitol Hill this month to share his story of medical victory through the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Champions Across America Program presented by Co-Op Financial. Patrick, a trauma patient treated at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, is the only representative from Michigan in a program honoring children who have overcome extreme health care challenges.

Patrick and his family were vacationing in northern Michigan two years ago when an afternoon on the slopes quickly turned tragic. Patrick was mid-run on his snowboard when he collided with a rope barrier on the side of the hill. The rope hit Patrick’s throat and crushed his windpipe. He immediately began gasping for air. Asa Pellegrom, Patrick’s friend and fellow snowboarder could tell he was having difficulty breathing and ran to the ski patrol for help. Asa convinced patrol staff of the seriousness of the incident and an ambulance was dispatched immediately.

Following stabilization at Munson Medical Center, Patrick was transported via air ambulance to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital where he underwent six hours of surgery. A team of specialists worked to stitch Patrick’s trachea together. Surgeons had to insert, remove and reinsert a breathing tube between each stitch to ensure he received proper oxygen. Without regaining consciousness, Patrick was put into a paralytic state for nine days to allow time to heal. He remained hospitalized for another two weeks of recovery and therapy. Following his release, Patrick underwent outpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and is now the very active boy he was before the accident. The only sign of injury is a soft voice, as his vocal cords are paralyzed.

“We’re so lucky to have Patrick with us today,” said Beth Ferris, Patrick’s mom. “He could have died from suffocation. Asa could have easily come to find us in the condo where we were staying but he knew getting medical help fast was more important. The quick decision on Asa’s part no doubt saved Patrick’s life. It’s an honor for Patrick, Asa, my husband and I to represent Michigan as part of the CMN celebration.”

Patrick will join 49 other children on a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida prior to traveling to Washington D.C.

Media are invited to attend a special send-off event honoring Patrick on Monday, March 10 at 1:45 p.m. at White Pines Middle School. The school is located at 1400 South Griffin Street in Grand Haven. Senator Wayne Kuipers will present Patrick with a special tribute at the event. Media are asked to check-in at the main office upon arrival.

Children’s Miracle Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. Each year the 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals provide the finest medical care, life-saving research and preventative education to help millions of kids overcome diseases and injuries of every kind. To learn more go to

Established in 1981 and located in Ontario, California, CO-OP Financial Services is wholly-owned by its credit union shareholders and provides volume discounts on products and services that include ATM network access, ATM processing, debit/card services and shared branching.’With nearly 2,000 credit union members, more than 25,000 surcharge-free ATMs (including 6,000 deposit-taking), 100 million-plus monthly transactions and 24 million cardholders, CO-OP Financial Services is the No. 1 credit union EFT network and processor in the U.S. financial services industry.’CO-OP Financial Services’ membership has access to over 800,000 ATMs worldwide through links to NYCE, STAR, Cirrus, Pulse and Plus.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is West Michigan’s largest children’s hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,500 inpatients and 150,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is committed to caring for children and their families with compassion, excellence and innovation.