Every morning, the construction team building our new hospital performs stretching exercises in small groups to reduce the potential for injury. But the crew of nearly 400 never had a workout like the one held June 23, led by two pediatric cancer survivors.
Cameron Christiansen and Livee Kellicut stood on a raised platform inside the construction fence. The two, both 16, met at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital when they were only four years old while undergoing treatment. Cameron has been cancer-free for nine years, and Livee for six. Both are members of the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital Youth Advisory Council.
As leaders gave commands, Livee and Cameron led the team through their morning exercises. When the stretching was finished, there was one last job to do: look up and wave at people watching from inside the hospital.
Both Cameron and Livee spoke through a megaphone to offer thanks to the hard-working men and women on the job site. “I know it’s been a long time coming for the new hospital,” said Cameron. “I’ve been affiliated with it since I was two years old. What you all are doing is really great. Thanks for making such impressive progress on this magnificent hospital.”
Livee added, “You have no idea what a big difference it will make for so many people. I’d like to give you a huge, huge thank you. So many people come here for life-changing treatments, just as it changed my life.”
Bill Rice, senior general superintendent for Gilbane Building Company, came up with the idea. “I thought it would be appropriate to have members of our Youth Advisory Council come because they have been integral in a lot of decisions about the new hospital,” he explained.
After the exercises, Bill led the honored guests, their mothers, and members of the Child Life team on a brief tour of the new hospital, including a visit to level 11, which will be home to the University of Iowa Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Center.
Livee and Cameron admire the efforts of everyone working to build a better healing environment. But the feeling goes both ways. As they thanked a team member, he replied, “The honor’s all ours.”