Generous gifts provided by two families in memory of their children
ST. LOUIS (December 11, 2018) – Patients at St. Louis Children's and Washington University Heart Center undergoing heart or lung surgeries can now ride to the O.R. in style. Two families generously donated Heart Warrior Cars for Heart Center patients to 'drive' to their procedures, hopefully making the trip a little less scary. The vehicles are remote controlled by the driver’s nurse for safety.
Elliott Llewelyn and Ryleigh Long passed away in April and May 2018, respectively. In remembrance, their parents, Alison and Adam Llewellyn and Michelle and Billy Long, wanted to show their appreciation for their children’s exceptional care and put smiles on children’s faces in the Heart Center.
Each family chose their vehicle carefully with their child in mind. The color red has special meaning for both families. Long’s family donated a zippy red sports car, complete with working headlights and Llewellyn’s family donated a tough red truck. In October, two Heart Center patients took the vehicles for their inaugural test drive after participating in a ribbon cutting.
“Elliott loved anything with wheels and was known for riding a tricycle around the Heart Center hallways,” said Allison, Elliott’s mom. “To see the smile of the little girl riding the truck hit home and gave me a feeling of closure. We had lived at the hospital for months so it feels good to be able to give back for everything the Heart Center staff did for our family. They took us under their wings and cared for us like family. Even in the saddest times, they made our experience memorable in good ways.”
After Elliott was born in 2014 with his heart condition, residents of his hometown of Mt. Sterling, IL, were decked out in red, Elliott themed t-shirts to show the family support. Red became associated with Elliott throughout his life, Allison says. “Elliott’s grandparents have a red Jeep and Elliott loved to ride in it. We thought the red truck we chose to donate looked like a Jeep. Elliott would have loved that truck.”
“From the beginning of our time with Ryleigh at the Heart Center, the staff was so compassionate and went above and beyond for us,” said Michelle, Ryleigh’s mom. I hope these cars bring a sense of comfort to parents and kids. At the ceremony revealing the cars, a sense of warmth washed over me seeing both kids smiling while they rode on the cars. Billy is already looking into donating another car in the future.”
Ryleigh’s dad, Billy, spent considerable time selecting just the right car to donate. “He chose the red Bugatti sports car because it kind of looked like a ladybug and Ryleigh’s nickname was Ladybug. We also called Ryleigh ‘Red’ because she had red hair,” said Michelle.
The Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University is the largest in the region, caring for nearly 5,000 pediatric patients over the past 10 years. In many cases, the medical teams are creating the new standards of care for children with complex heart conditions.
For more information about The Heart Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University, visit StLouisChildrens.org.
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ST. LOUIS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
For more than 130 years, St. Louis Children's Hospital has provided exceptional care for children in all 50 states and 80 countries around the world. With its academic partner, Washington University School of Medicine, Children’s is consistently ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. A member of BJC HealthCare, St. Louis Children’s Hospital follows one simple mission – to do what’s right for kids. That mission comes to life through medical discovery, innovative therapies and compassionate care. In 2018, Children's expanded with a state-of-the-art, 12-story medical tower. Children’s relies on generous donors to deliver specialized care for families in need, extend health care services to the community, and pursue research that promises to transform pediatric medicine. To find out more, visit StLouisChildrens.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.