Nearly half a mile away from 10-year-old Agatha Holloway’s home is a quaint family owned ice cream shop called Scoop Du Jour. It’s her favorite ice cream shop, and she’s always dreamed of being able to walk there. But until recently, that journey was physically too far for her to walk.
Agatha’s declining mobility made walking long distances impossible, but today, thanks to Seattle Children’s Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Medicine teams, Agatha’s dream has come true.
A goal after surgery
Before undergoing surgery at Seattle Children’s to address Agatha’s hemiparesis, weakness of one side of the body, her family met with Dr. Suzanne Yandow, chief of Seattle Children’s Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Department. Yandow asked Agatha if she had any goals after surgery. Without hesitation, Agatha told her about her dream of walking to her local ice cream shop.
Yandow, determined to help Agatha reach her goal, replied simply with a smile, “We can make that happen.”
“During the surgery we balanced her muscles and rotated her thigh to put the limb in a position to allow her to use it in a normal way,” said Yandow. “Before the surgery it was like she was walking on one leg.”
After the procedure called single-event multilevel surgery, Agatha remained in the hospital to recover. A pink cast with a big bow adorned her leg while it healed.
She had a long road ahead, but her goal remained steadfast. Once she recovered from surgery and the cast was removed, Agatha underwent intense rehabilitation. She worked with physical therapists at Seattle Children’s for months, starting slowly and then building on her accomplishments. Agatha went from a wheelchair to a walker to finally taking steps on her own.
Only two months after surgery, Agatha was making great strides.
To help support Agatha through her journey and help motivate her to reach her goal, her care team helped to coordinate an elaborate surprise – they brought Agatha’s favorite ice cream shop to her.
During one of Agatha’s physical therapy appointments at Seattle Children’s, a pop-up ice cream shop was erected in the middle of Seattle Children’s physical therapy gym, a place that had become very familiar to Agatha in the months following her surgery. After walking .8 miles around the hospital’s campus, the same distance from the ice cream shop to her home and the longest distance she’d ever walked before, Agatha returned to the gym to find an ice cream stand. Her family, physical therapists and school principal were all there to cheer her on as she walked the final steps to her goal – toward a scoop of chocolate ice cream.
“It was quite literally her dream come to life,” said Samantha Holloway, Agatha’s mother. “For once, Agatha was utterly speechless; it was only on the way home that it sunk in. She said she was amazed that people would have done that for her.”
Agatha still has physical therapy appointments at Seattle Children’s multiple times a week, but her goal of walking to Scoop Du Jour is finally a reality. Today, she’s looking forward to having Yandow join her as she walks to the ice cream shop.
“She’s gone beyond what we gave her as an expectation,” said Yandow. “She’s an inspiring child. Agatha is determined. I can remove obstacles for the children, but I can’t give them drive to succeed. Agatha just naturally has that.”
“We hope that Agatha’s continued journey inspires others to believe that dreams can come true,” said Holloway.
Agatha added, “If I can help one person than it will be worth it. If I was talking to someone now, I would tell them two things. First, set yourself a goal so that you can feel a sense of achievement. Second, things are going to be hard, there are going to be very ‘rough’ days, but quickly it all gets better and then you can do things that you’ve always dreamt of. Your life will change.”
Agatha will make the journey this spring, but she’s not stopping there. Yandow says Agatha is determined to go farther. Now, she wants to be able to take her shoes off and walk on the beach, ice cream in hand.
“One thing is for sure – Agatha’s future is bright. With her determination, the sky is the limit,” said Yandow.
“I haven’t come this far, to only come this far,” added Agatha.