CLEVELAND - Zoe Watterson cut the red ribbon on the fifth floor of Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital Tuesday that commemorated the reopening of an area of relaxation and often creativity for young patients and their families situated between two nurse's stations dedicated to treating cystic fibrosis patients.
Zoe almost single-handedly was responsible for part of Rainbow's fifth floor being renovated to enhance her fellow patient's life while undergoing treatment. Given a wish by the national Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Zoe decided during one of her hospital stays that her surroundings were less than inspiring.
Zoe enjoyed to create many forms of art while either bedridden or floor-ridden, so after a few sketches she decided two nearby rooms were due for a makeover.
Tuesday that colorful dream came true.
"It's amazing that the whole community has come together to make my wish come true." said Zoe. "I'm speechless, it's incredible. It just means the world to me that this wish could come true and that I'm able to help so many people and that so many people will benefit from this wish."
Two doctors, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, Dr. Michael Konstan, and Pediatric Pulmonoligist, Dr. Laura Milgram, spoke to a crowd on Rainbow's bottom floor at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Both had spent most of Zoe's life treating her illness. Like a daughter of their own, Zoe has exceeded expectations as an altrustic young woman. Both doctors took advantage of a chance to sing her praises to the crowd from a podium as Zoe and her mother Susan looked on from behind. The floor's upgrades will enhance all of the staff's lives as well as the patients.
"When we think about the 250 days you have spent just in the last couple years, and what is it that you're willing to do? Is to be outward-thinking and think about someone else. That's a gigantic wish that you provide to me and so from the bottom of my heart I say thank you," said Milgram.
Konstan has treated Zoe most her life.
"What Zoe wanted to do was make a more home-like atmosphere for the patients who spend time in the hospital. Not just the kids with cystic fibrosis but for all of the patients that spend time up on the fifth floor of Rainbow. So she conceived of this idea of renovating our activity room, a playroom that was mostly geared toward younger children and she had the idea that all the kids on the floor should benefit from that," said Konstan.
Zoe's mother, Susan Watterson, has been humbled by the generosity from friends, family, as well as total strangers.
"It's been a comfort to our family. It gives her strength and she doesn't even realize it. She is such an incredibly strong young woman, it's beautiful to see her now. Her attitude has always been, 'I don't want my disease to put me down. I don't want to hold back because I can't breathe, because I'm short-winded, because I'm sick', and for her to have a dream that is so altruistic and then to have so much support and encouragement to go for it, and then to have so many people to participate in it, it's humbling. It's humbling what a ripple effect she's had on the community," said Susan.
Donating an air hockey table for Zoe's dream, Kathy Vegh said her family business, Danny Vegh's, wished they could have done more for such an incredible young woman. Zoe went right to the table easily scoring on Konstan.
Kathy Vegh has recently spent time in hospital rooms with her own small child. She says she knows what it means to feel comforted as the family of loved ones hospitalized.
"This is extremely important. We've had our own challenges with family medically and the support of the community is what it's all about," said Vegh. "I'm really proud of her and proud that she's a part of our community and it was a real honor to be involved."
For information on Make-A-Wish go to: www.wish.org