On the surface, Lili may seem like your typical eight-year-old girl. She’s a great student, has a loving family by her side, and dreams big when it comes to her future. But little do people know that there’s much more to this remarkable girl than what meets the eye.
For the last four years, Lili has battled spina bifida occulta, a birth defect in which a developing baby’s spinal cord fails to develop properly. She currently receives treatment for her rare condition at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford where she is prescribed medications and has even had to undergo spinal surgery.
Even though Lili battles her health condition day in and day out, she doesn’t let that stop her from making light of the dark situation.
This year, she decided to tackle on a big project that would bring a smile to her face as well as those of her fellow patients. She served as a Patient Hero for the Summer Scamper, an annual race that benefits the child health programs at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford University School of Medicine. Lili was nominated for the honor thanks to her remarkable story and can-do attitude.
In light of Coldwell Banker’s “Give Where You Live” campaign, in which San Francisco Bay Area offices hosted fundraising events to benefit Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and other local organizations, Coldwell Banker decided to chat with Lili to hear the story of an exceptional child that was supported during this campaign.
Congratulations on your role as the 2016 Summer Scamper Patient Hero for the Children’s Fund! How did it feel to represent the hospital and fellow patients last year?
It feels great to have been part of such an important campaign that supports the hospital’s patients. I enjoyed being a Patient Hero mainly because of the opportunity I had to share my story with others with hopes that they’ll be inspired to support the children that receive treatment at Lucile Packard.
What made you want to participate in the Summer Scamper race?
I wanted to participate in the race because when I started going the hospital and had my first surgery, I was really scared, but since great doctors took care of me and I was provided with medicines, I was able to get through the experience without being so scared. I wanted to share my experience with other patients and show them that they can get through it too. Another reason I participated was to help raise money for the hospital that has done so much for me.
We hear that you love performing. What do you love most about being up on stage?
I love making people happy and I feel happy performing because it’s something I love to do and I can just let out all my stress. When I’m singing on stage, my mind is focused on performing and I’m able to think about something other than my problems.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
After I finish my acting career on Broadway, I want to become a mother of wonderful children and I would also like to be a school counselor or a director, or maybe both!
What other activities do you enjoy in your spare time other than performing?
I enjoy gymnastics, dancing and jumping on my trampoline because I like being active and learning new things and having different strengths. I also like skiing and swimming.
What do you love most about Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford?
The child life specialists and the nurses are great because they help distract you when you are having a hard time. The doctors also help you feel relaxed and they talk you through everything so you know what to expect. I also enjoy the garden and library.
Do you have any special memories of your time at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital?
One of the most memorable times was when I donated the presents I received from my seventh birthday party to kids at the hospital. It made me feel good and I wasn’t sad about giving my presents away, it actually made me feel happy. Also, I met Spiderman during my first time going to sleep for a procedure.
Would you like to share any advice to children who are battling a health condition?
Don’t always think about what’s wrong because you’re going to get scared for what’s coming next or what’s happening. Talk to the doctors and ask questions. Write your fears down, put them to the side for a little while and try to think about something pleasant. I have learned that things at the hospital aren’t as bad as you worry they will be.
Thanks for chatting with us Lili. We look forward to seeing your red carpet debut some day!