Kelly’s story

Kelly made her appearance with seven birth defects all related to spina bifida and quickly left for Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Within five weeks, she had nine surgeries
At times the infant fussed and cried. Not from the surgeries. No, she wanted her bassinet near the nurse’s station. “She loves to watch us talk on the phone,” the nurse told her mother.
“By the time she was 3, she had had 20 surgeries and Shriner’s Hospital in Shreveport, La. became Kelly’s second home. “She just loved that place,” her mother reported. She made friends with everyone. She found humor in everything. The staff even asked to keep her an extra day or two to keep up another child’s spirits. She would pray with children before their surgery, saying, ‘Thank you Jesus, you are going to make them well. Thank you they are going to breathe in a bag.’ And proceeded to list the whole process. By the time she finished, the child was ready for surgery. Everybody would sleep better that night for her having prayed,” her mother said.
“That was when she was three, four, five years old. She had a great faith. She had much to be thankful for. She made a profession of faith at eight and was baptized in the baptistery while in her wheelchair.”
At five, she had surgery to enable her to wear reciprocal walking braces. Following surgery, she arrived at her special education classroom in her wheelchair and wearing a body cast from chest to ankles.
Kelly never wore the braces. A young classmate, not understanding the danger, tipped her wheelchair. Kelly landed on the ground, damaging her ankles irreparably.
She developed an infection that put her in the isolation ward next to the nurse’s station at Shriner’s. Only able to see the nurse, she again cued into the nurse’s activities. Each morning Kelly reported to the doctor the details of the night: which child was up, who had called and who needed extra medicine. The doctor dubbed Kelly, ‘Barbara Walters’ because she gave such a complete breakdown of the news of the night in correct chronological order.
“The doctor loved to be entertained by his hospital newscaster,” her mother recalled.
Loved at the hospital, bullied at school.
“Students repeatedly emptied classroom pencil sharpeners into her backpack with her books and supplies. She would come home with her face, hands and clothes blackened. It took us hours to clean her books. We had to replace the backpack and supplies and completely scrub down her wheelchair. She never knew who did it and did not want us to pursue it. I was hurt to the core and angry that no friends or teachers tried to find out why she was covered in black, but Kelly chose to be forgiving,” her mom said.
She persisted, finished high school with a basic diploma and tried a couple classes at the Community College before staying at home with the assistance of home health aides. They helped her, she helped them by teaching them long division so they could get a GED and a better job. She filled her days calling people to wish them a happy birthday or just to talk.
At 35, she had her 50th surgery to deal with routine repairs. Her heart arrested three times in the operating room and a couple times after that. At her funeral, many recalled her reaching out to them and her refusal from the first to allow her circumstances or people to discourage her. She touched many lives. An excellent eulogy for a wheel chair bound child from the special education classroom.