Florida International University students competed for the honor of being named “Miracle Man” at a male pageant. The winner will help a school sorority raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Herald
When Melissa Morales was a child, her asthma landed her in the hospital several times.
“I was in and out of Miami Children’s Hospital,” said Morales, 22, president of Phi Mu, Theta Gamma Chapter, a Florida International University sorority.
Morales credits Miami Children’s Hospital’s staff for saving her life — and now volunteers her time and raises donations.
On March 2, Morales and her sorority sisters got extra help in helping the hospital at the third annual Miracle Man pageant at FIU’s Graham Center Ballroom at 11000 SW Eighth St. Proceeds benefit the national non-profit organization, Children’s Miracle Network.
This year’s winner, Christopher Aiden Montano, will act as an ambassador of Phi Mu and will work with the members of the Greek organization raising funds and awareness for Miami Children’s Hospital, which is the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
Montano, 20, who is studying psychology plans to visit the children of Miami Children’s Hospital on a monthly basis.
“All they hear is what the doctors are telling them, but I want them to know all the things people do for them,” said Montano.
In the talent round, Montano dressed up as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. He said the character promotes courage.
Every penny counts , said Maria E. Moldes, director of corporate relations for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“Each dollar brings us closer to helping a child, so the support of members of our community is essential,” Moldes wrote in an e-mail. “This helps Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation fulfill its vision of ensuring the health and happiness of children everywhere.”
At the pageant, 11 contestants competed for the role. There were four rounds and four judges. Participants were judged on their personal introduction, talent and how well they impersonated their favorite childhood cartoon character. In the final round, those who competed were asked questions about the Children’s Miracle Network. Any male FIU student was welcomed to compete.
Wearing a V for Vendetta mask and sweater, Hansel Garcia, who is working on his public administration master’s degree, hopped on stage to perform a dance routine.
“It’s all about the children,” said Garcia, who danced to several hip-hop songs.
Some contestants performed a song; others played an instrument or showcased music videos on a projector screen.
About 300 people attended the pageant. The event raised nearly $2,000.
Phi Mu, which has 95 active members at FIU, also hosts other fundraisers to help the non-profit. Its biggest event is a softball tournament. The sorority has been a national Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals sponsor since 1986. Members also volunteer hours at various fundraising events throughout the year, said Moldes.
In North America, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals consist of 170 children’s hospitals. The Miami Children’s Hospital has been the local non-profit’s hospital in South Florida since 1985. Funds raised in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties benefit the Miami Children’s Hospital.
Jimmy Gamito won the first Miracle Man pageant three years ago.
“I will continue helping the hospital perhaps for the rest of my life,” said Gamito. “We bring them smiles and we show them that there are people who want to see the children get better.”