Children's Miracle Network holds special meaning for Thurston siblings

      SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Drake Ortmann is one of 12 contestants in this year's Mr. THS pageant.

      That's meant early morning rehearsals to work on the show's dance number and lots of fundraising for the Children's Miracle Network.

      A tour through the neo-natal intensive care unit at Sacred Heart Medical Center really showed Drake and the other contestants how important their work really is, seeing the premature babies being helped by the money they're raising.

      "I think that's the moment that hit a lot of people," Ortmann said. "I know I got kind of emotional, and a couple other guys did, and yeah, that was pretty serious."

      But Drake doesn't have to look far to see how Children's Miracle Metwork is helping save lives every day.

      He just has to look at his little sister Magnolia.

      Now 15, she was born tiny and sick. Doctors told her parents she had no chance of surviving.

      "I weighed 3 pounds and 12 ounces," she said.

      "I was like 10 pounds, 4 ounces," her brother said.

      "She said they were so scared, and they said to just abort and there was no chance, but that people like prayed for me and it was a true miracle," Magnolia said of her family's reaction, "and that the doctors were surprised, and they're still surprised today."

      Doctors have reason to be surprised: Magnolia - Nolie for short - is completely healthy.

      "I did cheer and I just finished basketball and now I'm doing softball," she said.

      Like any normal siblings, Drake and Nolie sometimes argue, but they're very close.

      "Well, he's really funny," Nolie said. "He's really crazy and he's really nice and he's my favorite sibling - don't tell Rhett and Athena, but yeah."

      Knowing that his little sister was a miracle baby gives Drake extra incentive to work hard on the pageant.

      "It's fun and great for the kids we're raising money for so it's all around great," he said.

      When her brother hits the stage April 12 at 6 p.m., Nolie will be right there in the audience cheering on her big brother.