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news News Monday, July 8, 2019 Monday, July 8, 2019 8:32 AM - Monday, July 8, 2019 8:32 AM

A "Starry Starry Night" for Raya

A "Starry Starry Night" for Raya

For a senior in high school, prom is notably one of the most memorable and long-awaited milestone events in a teenager’s life. While all of her friends were getting glammed up and ready to go for a night to remember, Raya was spending her prom in the last place she had ever imagined – the hospital.

Raya was admitted to the Springfield Shriners Hospital inpatient rehabilitation program after inflammation in her brain caused her to lose cognitive and motor function. She also experienced a misalignment of the vertebrae in her neck, ultimately requiring traction to correct and a neck brace to maintain the alignment. Raya spent three hours per day, five days a week in intense physical, occupational and speech therapies for a number of weeks in order to regain her ability to process information, and to improve her movement and function. With hard work comes frustration, and it was evident that Raya was upset about missing the end of her senior year.

The child life department wanted to do something extra special for Raya, and thought that hosting a prom would relieve the stress and fear she was experiencing due to her absence from school. The therapeutic pieces of planning a prom were incorporated into Raya’s daily therapy, and staff members from a number of departments pitched in to throw her an event she will never forget.

On Friday, June 7, an inpatient room was transformed into a “Starry Starry Night,” which was the perfect backdrop for Raya’s sparkling tiara and beautiful powder blue dress. Her dress was gifted to her by a patient care assistant and it fit her like a glove. Raya was overjoyed and surprised to see a room full of attendees comprised of hospital staff, friends and family, as well as school officials from Central High School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Prom was not the only reason that made this particular day special. Raya made incredible progress during her time at the hospital, and once the music turned off and the lights came on, Raya was finally able to go home. Her discharge came just in time to graduate with all of her friends – a milestone event that she worked hard not to miss.

Raya in dress, with date