Shannon Goodnight's Story

Shannon GoodnightLike most children, physical education was Shannon Goodnight’s favorite part of the school day. However, unlike other children, she had to play through her asthma and cystic fibrosis—severe conditions that stood in the way of playing kickball, swimming and academics.  

As a student at Morgridge Academy for chronically ill children (formerly known as Kunsberg School) on the campus of National Jewish Health, Shannon and her family knew that medical care was only steps away and she had the benefit of pre-treating with medications before exercising. Two nurses are on staff at the school, which serves approximately 90 students in Kindergarten through eighth grades with chronic medical conditions.

“It made me feel more comfortable,” Shannon recalls.

Many students with chronic illnesses sit on the sidelines, but at Morgridge Academy, they are encouraged to participate.

“A lot of these kids have not had positive experiences in PE,” said Jim Gianvito, physical education instructor at Morgridge Academy. “We figure out a way to make it fun for everyone.”

Shannon’s family first learned of the school from her doctors at National Jewish Health. She attended from Kindergarten until seventh grade.

In addition to academics, the nurses at Morgridge Academy helped her learn how to manage her medical conditions. She also would visit the nurses’ office to receive treatments with a vibrating vest that clears the mucus that would accumulate in her lungs from her cystic fibrosis.

After leaving Morgridge Academy, Shannon was homeschooled for two years and graduated from a public high school in her hometown of Aurora, Colo. She plans to attend college after participating in a service mission for her church.