Big Ten Announces 2023 Football Championship Game Honorary Kids Captains


Four patients from Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent selected as honorary captains for game.

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Four patients from Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent (PMCH) have been selected as the Honorary Kid Captains for the 2023 Big Ten Football Championship Game presented by Discover, the conference announced Friday. Mallory Amara and Drew Shouse will assist the Big Ten East champion Michigan Wolverines, while Kayson McPhearson and Ellie Zuver will aid the Big Ten West champion Iowa Hawkeyes.
Chosen by the children’s hospital’s care team to serve as honorary captains, each will receive a commemorative jersey, special recognition during the game and the opportunity to participate in the pregame coin toss at midfield of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Mallory Amara was playing with a toy when the battery fell out. Before her parents were even aware of what had happened, Mallory had put the battery in her mouth and swallowed it. She came running to her mom, who noticed she was not acting like herself. Mallory could not stay awake. Her mom asked her if she was okay, and Mallory said, “No.” Her parents rushed Mallory to the ER, where an X-ray confirmed a battery was stuck in her throat. They were told to go directly to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent. Mallory was taken into surgery, the battery was removed and an NG tube was inserted. Her esophagus was burned but Mallory is doing well and eating solids again. Her family is grateful to Rachel Dunn, MD, BS, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, and the staff at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Kayson McPhearson was diagnosed with kidney failure at a young age and placed on dialysis for six months at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. He was placed on the transplant donor list, and his family’s prayers were answered when Kayson had a kidney transplant in 2019. Kayson is a very active boy who likes to play with his brother and sister and ride on his four-wheeler and dirt bike. He continues to see his kidney doctor at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital for follow-up care and brings a light to everyone in the room with his contagious smile and personality.
Drew Shouse had his first open heart surgery at just five days old. He was too high-risk to send back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until his second open heart surgery so he stayed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) until he was seven months old. After 263 days in the PICU he finally was able to go home on a ventilator and had all types of accessories for his health needs. He had speech, occupational and physical therapy in home, and a third open heart surgery in October of 2017 at 2.5 years old. Following a third open heart surgery, he became completely ventilator-free at age five, then was able to have his trach removed the following year. Drew is doing fantastic and his parents are grateful to the amazing pediatric team at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and for the care they have received over the years.
Ellie Zuver was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (no left ventricle in her heart) around 24 weeks. After Ellie’s birth, she was intubated and immediately brought to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent. At her post-natal echocardiogram, it was determined that she also had an intact atrial septum, which made her first surgery, the Norwood procedure, quite emergent. She was transferred from the NICU to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), underwent the Norwood procedure on her third day of life and was intubated for more than two weeks. She spent her first seven weeks in the NICU and PICU before having her second surgery, the Glenn procedure, in October 2019. She had her third surgery, the Fontan procedure, in June 2022 and spent a total of five weeks in the hospital. Ellie had a seizure and stroke two days post-op but has had no lingering issues. She recently visited her neurologist and does not need to be seen for another year. The family is beyond grateful for the care and compassion they have received at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Michigan and Iowa will meet in the 2023 Big Ten Football Championship Game at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 2, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For more information, visit
About Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital
Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at Ascension St. Vincent (PMCH), part of Ascension, one of the nation’s leading non-profit and Catholic health systems, is a full service, dedicated children’s medical center providing the highest quality, family-centered care to children and adolescents in the state of Indiana and beyond. A Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and Level I Children’s Surgery Center, PMCH is staffed by more than 250 experienced pediatric sub-specialists along with pediatric nurses, social workers, child life specialists, chaplains, and other health professionals with a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to family-focused care. PMCH has more than 160 licensed beds, which includes a 15-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, a 17-bed Pediatric Emergency Department, and a 97-bed Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, providing the highest level of acute care as established by the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The PMCH Trauma Center is one of two in Indiana to achieve the Level I Pediatric Trauma verification to deliver advanced care for even the most severe injuries. The Pediatric Burn Center is a regional burn center for Indiana, equipped to deliver care for minor and life-threatening burns, including skin grafts, surgery, and scar management. The hospital offers 24-hour on-site coverage by pediatric hospitalists, intensivists, neonatologists, and board-certified emergency physicians, and provides safe and streamlined critical care transport by ambulance and air. Visit
About the Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten Conference ( is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching, and public service. Founded in 1896, Big Ten Conference has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness, and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten Conference institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. Big Ten Conference sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013.

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