It’s not just the fact that Ke’Mora McMiller’s heart once stopped that makes her a Riley Champion―it’s the way her heart keeps expanding to serve others.
Staying positive is a daily priority for the seventh-grader who loves volleyball, art and playing her ukulele. “She is very creative and quiet, and I think those are two of the best features any child can have,” says her mother Sabrina. “Whenever she’s quiet, greatness comes.”
Ke’Mora mentors children with disabilities, participates in the Girlboss mentoring program, supports anti-bullying campaigns and distributes shoes to children in need. She has also helped Riley Children’s Foundation by appearing at events and creating art for the 2020 Be the Hope NOW Calendar. “I just want kids to feel equal,” says Ke’Mora. “I want them to have the same amount of fun that anyone else can have.”
It’s hard to believe a kid who radiates so much warmth was battling a near-death crisis just a year ago.
In September of 2018, Ke’Mora went into sudden cardiac arrest while riding in her mother’s car. Paramedics resuscitated her and rushed her to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, where doctors discovered a virus had attacked her heart. She spent a total of 31 days at Riley, four of them on ECMO (life support) and seven on a ventilator.
Riley’s donor-funded Child Life Specialists were a lifeline for Ke’Mora and her five siblings. The family formed a special connection with Riley Child Life Special Events Supervisor Melissa Sexton, whose late sister Amanda Glover had taught Ke’Mora’s fourth-grade class. “It was like the kids having a piece of Miss Glover, so Melissa was really was an angel for them,” says Sabrina.
During her brave recovery, Ke’Mora drew the admiration of Riley Critical Care Physician Santosh Kaipa, M.D. “She has been an inspirational person even prior to her illness,” he said while nominating Ke’Mora for the Riley Champions program. “She now wants to come back to meet everyone that has taken care of her and participate in the annual Riley Critical Care Walkathon. With her inspiring personality, she would be one of the best Champions the hospital and Foundation could ask for.”
Ke’Mora shares this advice for other kids facing big life challenges: “Try not to think of the negative. Think of the positive, and they can fight through it. Everybody is strong. My mom used to tell me, ‘Don’t say ‘what if,’ just think of what CAN happen. Just think, ‘I can do it; I can get through it.’”