Sneha Dave is always in motion. Whether she’s on the tennis court, a hiking trail or volunteering her time, the Greenwood 15-year-old leads an action-packed life. She is the picture of perseverance.
Sneha was only 6 years old when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a painful inflammatory bowel disease. “Ulcerative colitis is so challenging that I can’t describe all of its consequences,” explains Sneha. “When the colon is ‘mad’ the whole body takes a beating. My joints would hurt. I developed skin nodules and mouth ulcers. I had fevers all the time. I lost my appetite and wasted away.”
In 2010, her condition took a turn for the worse. Her flare-ups drained her of energy and required heavy medication and multiple hospitalizations. “We saw Sneha’s life turn upside down, spending most of her time in the restroom, bed, and hospital,” explains her mother, Seema. “She stopped going out of the house completely.” But with the help of the staff at Riley Hospital for Children, Sneha and her family gained strength and hope. “The nursing staff, child life specialists and volunteers went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and bring us happiness during our most difficult times,” recalls Sneha’s father, Sachin.
A special friendship with a fellow Riley patient helped Sneha cope with her disease — and changed her heart forever. Cory Lane was coping with both Crohn’s disease and cancer. Sneha and Cory became close friends, until he passed away last May.
“I remember the time I went to his house when he was under hospice care,” says Sneha. “He was so sick, and he taught me a value I will never forget: ‘Make life an adventure. Make every day an adventure.’ I learned from him that every day is a choice. You can make that day good or bad depending on what you choose it to be. His legacy will always live on.”
Sneha honors Cory’s legacy by continuing to write the Crohn’s and Colitis Teen Times, a newsletter they started together. She also volunteers at an area hospital while balancing schoolwork at Center Grove High School, where she is a top student and a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference Scholar. “Sneha’s positive spirit, resilience and compassion for helping other patients make her an incredible Riley Champion,” says Riley Child Life Specialist Amanda Banker, who nominated Sneha for this honor.
Sneha’s ultimate goal is to become an interventional radiologist at Riley Hospital, following the footsteps of Riley radiologist Francis Marshalleck, M.D. “I want to make a difference in the world. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be meaningful,” Sneha promises. “Even a small positive change, one person at a time, would be a giant step for humanity.”