Libbie Holmes of Bedford, Ind., is looking forward to her high school graduation in May 2016, but that isn’t the only milestone she plans to celebrate on that day.
Born with spina bifida and requiring a shunt for her hydrocephalus, Libbie has been a fighter from birth. She has endured 15 surgeries in her 17 years of life, most of them at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Lately, Libbie has been working hard to accomplish one ambitious goal: to walk across the stage to receive her diploma without using her walker. That once-in-a-lifetime moment will be even more special because Libbie will accept that diploma from her grandfather, who is on the school board. “I know that I will be nervous and excited all at the same time, and I will probably have a lot of tears of joy!” says Libbie.
Libbie works on her goal every day, walking a bit farther through the halls of Bedford North Lawrence High school each time. Those who know Libbie say her determination, strength, will and beauty are impressive. "God has given us an amazing gift, and she is using that gift to inspire a lot of people," says Libbie’s mother Carrie, who is teacher at the school.
"This family is truly the embodiment of a Riley family," says Riley Pediatric Urology Chief Mark Cain, M.D. The surgeon adds that he would do anything for one of his “all-time favorite families.”
Libbie and her family will never forget a time when she was exceptionally frightened and upset before surgery. Dr. Cain put Libbie on his back and gave her a piggy back ride into the operating room to ease her fears. “He has always treated Libbie with gentleness and compassion that is hard to put into words,” says Carrie. “It makes me tear up every time I think about it!”
The family says the long, frequent trips from southern Indiana to Riley Hospital are well worth it. "They are such a very special group of people to me and my family,” explains Libbie. “They have always calmed my fears and made my stays up there as comfortable as possible. I will forever and always be grateful."