Why you should climb the Aon Center this month




Mary Cate Lynch is an energetic 5-year-old who captures your heart as soon as you meet her. Chicago Parent got a chance to meet her a few years ago and we were hooked.

This year, she has been named the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation’s “Patient Champion” for the 20th anniversary of the Aon Step Up for Kids event Jan. 29.

Proceeds raised during the climb to the top of the Aon Center benefits Lurie Children’s Department of Family Services, which has helped Mary Cate, who was born with Apert Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder, and so many others develop self-confidence. Mary Cate and her mom now talk to other kids about Apert Syndrome and special needs – and Mary Cate herself has more than 19,000 social media followers who want to hear what she has to say.

We caught up with Mary Cate (and her mom Kerry) again this week:

What is your favorite thing to play?

I love to play mommy/baby with my new bitty baby that Santa gave me.

What is your favorite food?


How do you like being a big sister?

I love to, because Maggie plays with me and Brydie laughs at me. I love to give my sisters hugs and kisses.

What do you most want people to know about kids with special needs?

Kids with special needs are just like "typical kids." They love to laugh and play and be loved and be treated with kindness. It may take them a little longer to learn how to do things that may come easier for other people, but that is what makes them extra strong.

How do you feel when others stare at you?

I don't like it, so I smile.

What should they do instead?

They should smile and say hi!

How do you teach children about your differences?

We have visited about 120 schools in the Chicagoland area talking to children about differences, and that we are all different on the outside but all the same on the inside, so we should embrace each other and treat each other with kindness. We always say, "be kind, everyone you know is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

Why should people step up for kids at the Aon Center?

Hospitals can be scary places for children (and adults). Every time we have had an encounter with someone from child life services, it has brought a smile or a laugh or a piece of knowledge for a child, and what they may be going through; and that is extremely important. As a parent, it pains us like no other, to see our child nervous or scared or in pain, so when someone comes in with music or art or a toy or to explain the procedure, it eases our heart a bit.

Kids Eat Chicago

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