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Jennifer and Camilla’s Story


Jennifer Gonzales has been a longtime supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals as a Sam’s Club associate in San Antonio, TX. When the CMN Hospitals campaign came around each year, it was Jennifer who organized and rallied the associates at her club to raise funds.  Jennifer always knew the funds she was instrumental in raising were helping kids and families in her community.  She attended CMN Hospitals luncheons and met children and families treated at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. Little did she know that one day, she would be sharing her own story.

In 2018 Jennifer became pregnant with her daughter, Camilla.  Nobody was more exited than Jennifer’s dad, Hector, also a Sam’s Club associate. While Jennifer was pregnant, Camilla was diagnosed with Down syndrome. When Hector heard Jennifer was having Camilla earlier than expected, he dropped everything.  Although he’d just returned home from a visit to San Antonio, he got back in his car and drove five hours to be with Jennifer.  Camilla was born with congenital heart defects, which is common among children with Down syndrome.  Her diagnosis led to a four month stay in the NICU in San Antonio. Camilla was very sick, and needed additional care and expertise, so her care team recommended a transfer to Texas Children’s in Houston.

After the four month stay in San Antonio the transfer to Texas Children’s was tough.  Jennifer had bonded with the staff and other families there and she was close to home. But, Jennifer knew for her daughter to have a fighting chance, Texas Children’s was where she needed to be. Camilla received the life-saving heart surgery she needed at Texas Children’s, but there were other underlying complications.  Camilla also suffered from chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, she had a long road ahead.

Throughout Camilla’s six-month stay at Texas Children’s, her family supported her.  When she had to return to work on the weekends, Hector would come and stay with Camilla in Houston. Their Sam’s Club family supported them as well, sending well wishes and giving both Jennifer and Hector the flexibility to be with Camilla.  Beyond the world class medical care that Camilla received, Texas Children’s provided other services to assist Jennifer and Camilla along the way.  Jennifer was allowed to stay with Camilla in the hospital during those six-months away from home.  Texas Children’s also provided counseling when she just needed someone to talk to.  Jennifer said “They took such good care of us, they became like family.”

Today, Camilla is thriving.  She no longer needs oxygen, she’s crawling, standing and even says “mama.”  Jennifer thinks she’ll be walking soon.  Camilla still has a feeding tube and needs long term care, but her future is bright.

Jennifer says that she’s just so grateful that CMN Hospitals was there for her. For so many years she raised money for other kids and families. Now she could see first-hand how special a CMN Hospital is and how important the funds are that are raised through the Walmart and Sam’s Club campaign.

You can help families like Jennifer and Camilla’s by donating when shopping in any Walmart or Sam’s Club through July 25th, or while shopping online.  Together, we can change kids’ health and change the future – for all of us!