Memory lives on with bed to help families

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Michaela’s memory lives on

By Stephen Thomas

    LOUISVILLE - It’s been 18 months since Michaela Walls passed away, but she is still giving special gifts to her family and the community.
    The seven-year-old Shepherdsville resident suffered from Rett Syndrome, a nervous system disorder causing multiple developmental issues.
    Michaela and her family spent a lot of time at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, where the medical team took care of all family and friends.
    To show appreciation, the Walls Family made a substantial donation in Michaela’s name to purchase a hospital bed for Kosair similar to the one Michaela had used.
    Eric Churchill, Vice-President of development with Kosair Charities, described the bed as an “end of life family bed,” oversized so family members could lay alongside the child patient.
  Representatives from Kosair Charities and the Kosair Shriners gathered with the Walls family to acknowledge the donation.
    Among the family present were Michaela’s parents, Lori and Frank; sisters Carlie and Izzy, grandparents Margaret and Charles Baker; aunts Rhonda Baker-Logsdon, Diane Baker and Sissie Mitchell; cousin Suzanne Baker and cousin/caregiver/respite worker Sam Mitchell.
    “We promised Michaela that we were going to continue her fight,” Lori said. “We wanted to do something for the wonderful hospital that did so much for us. This was our way to say thank you to everybody, especially in her memory.”
    “If (the bed) brings comfort to a family like it did for us, then I’m happy,” Frank said.
    Kosair chief nursing officer Cis Gruebbel recalled Michaela as “a precious angel” that the entire staff cared for. Gruebbel informed the family that the new bed was already being used by another patient.
    “I hope that you find comfort in that,” she said to the family.
    Pam Missi, Kosair director of inpatient services, thanked the Walls family, especially Michaela’s mother, Lori, for being “an ambassador for Rett Syndrome awareness.”
    Missi said the new bed included a plaque in Michaela’s honor. It reads: “In Loving Memory of Michaela Lee Walls, 6-06-2001 to 5-03-2009. Rett Syndrome. A true angel...a gift from God...she moved mountains, and inspired so much goodness without ever saying a word: Michaela’s Mission.”
    “Michaela’s memory shines throughout this hospital,” said Missi. “We always think of the Walls Family.”
    Churchill said the Kosair Shriners decided to implement a $7,000 fund surplus in Michaela’s name to Kosair Charities for use toward the purchase of another bed. The Shriners presented a check during the ceremony.
    “This has been a very growing experience for me,” said Churchill. “We’re able to touch so many other lives because of this. With additional funds for a second bed in Michaela’s honor, this is a culmination of it all.”
    Along with Kosair, the Walls Family offered special thanks to the Bullitt County community for continuing support, including local businesses that offered services or assisted with fundraisers.
    “This community always wrapped their arms around us and we really appreciate that,” Lori said.