On Saturday morning, nearly 50 people gathered outside of 10-year-old Agatha Holloway’s home in the east central Seattle neighborhood of Madison Park to support the little girl with an incredible dream and fierce determination.
Her dream was to walk to her local ice cream shop, a journey that until recently seemed impossible.
Since childhood, Agatha hasn’t been able to walk without assistance due to hemiparesis, or weakness of one side of the body. About five months ago, she underwent a life-changing surgery at Seattle Children’s to help increase her mobility. On Saturday, only 160 days after surgery, she prepared to finally make her dream – walking nearly a half mile to her local ice cream shop, Scoop Du Jour – a reality.
Agatha told Dr. Suzanne Yandow, chief of Seattle Children’s Pediatric Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Department, about her dream before going into the operating room on Nov. 13. At the time, they didn’t know if Agatha would be able to accomplish her goal. Agatha’s declining mobility made walking a challenge. Before the surgery, Agatha had never walked that far in her life, but Yandow was determined to help make her dream come true.
“We can make that happen,” Yandow told Agatha.
Yandow promised Agatha that when she was ready, they’d make the journey together.
The real work begins
After the surgery, the real work for Agatha began. Months of intense rehabilitation at Seattle Children’s helped Agatha go from a wheelchair, to a walker, to taking steps on her own. In March, her care team even orchestrated a practice walk at the hospital during one of her physical therapy appointments. She walked .8 miles around the hospital, the same distance to and from the ice cream shop, which was the longest distance she’d ever walked. At the end of the walk, she was surprised with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
Watch the below video where Agatha was surprised with a pop-up ice cream shop in the middle of the physical therapy gym at Seattle Children’s.
“Agatha has been working incredibly hard,” said Sarah Norman, a physical therapist at Seattle Children’s who helped Agatha through her recovery and attended the walk. “Normally, we don’t see this drastic of a change in such a short time. I’m sure she’s going to keep surprising us all.”
Today, her progress is nothing short of remarkable.
A milestone day
When Yandow arrived to walk alongside Agatha to her ice cream shop, Agatha ran into her arms and greeted her with a big hug.
“You’re here!” Agatha shouted excitedly. “You changed my life.”
The milestone day was enough to bring tears to Yandow’s eyes.
“She’s extraordinary,” said Yandow. “I wasn’t sure we’d get here, but with her hard work and determination, she’s gone beyond what we could have expected. She absolutely believes she can keep going, and I know she will. She’s an inspiration.”
Yandow was joined by other members of Agatha’s care team, as well as friends, family and supporters from the community. Agatha proudly led her own personal parade as she completed the half-mile walk to the ice cream shop, hand-in-hand with Yandow. Each person in her parade carried a bright pink balloon – the same pink as Yandow’s scrubs during Agatha’s operation and the bow that adorned Agatha’s cast after surgery – and wore a pin with Agatha’s motivational motto, ‘I’ve not come this far, to only come this far,’ to commemorate Agatha’s journey.
“There aren’t words to describe the huge amount of emotion of today,” said Samantha Holloway, Agatha’s mother. “It’s not every day you wake up knowing that today’s the day that your daughter’s dream is going to come true. To say I’m proud of how far she’s come isn’t nearly strong enough.”
Scoops of gratitude
As Agatha sat down to enjoy her scoop of chocolate ice cream, the shop filled with members of the community who rallied behind her to support her journey. In a moving speech, Neil Holloway, Agatha’s father, expressed words of gratitude.
“Today is about thanking all of you,” said Holloway. “Thank you for being a part of our journey. It’s a phenomenal achievement for Agatha, but there’s no way we could have achieved this dream without you.”
Photography provided by Katie McCullough Simmons.