10-year-old CHOA patient receives ride of her life

7:11 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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Get ready to smile.

Earlier this month, a ten-year-old girl named Katelyn Duvall -- who suffers from colon disability and has been a patient at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for seven years -- received a beautiful gift.

Katelyn suffers from colon disability. As she says, "It's where your colon doesn't contract. You get stomach aches; you vomit; you go to the hospital a lot."

Katelyn has weathered five surgeries. Every night, she sits with her mother Natasha and irrigates her insides with saline solution. It is a painful, daily process.

"It's heartbreaking for you as a parent," said mother Natasha, "when there's nothing you can do to take the pain away from them in that moment."

Added Natasha, "It's not going away, and it's something you deal with every day."

Through Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Katelyn was matched with Pure Imagination, a local charity that creates special experiences for sick children.

"This is my passion," says the charity's founder, Layla Haddad Gunn. "I have come to find that it is probably my purpose."

Layla's charity has a catch: for every child who gets a special day, another child must raise funds for that day.

Enter another ten-year-old: Mary, who sold doughnuts and coffee at Lilburn Park last month, not knowing who she would be helping.

Through Mary's fundraising and the groundwork of Pure Imagination, Katelyn received a special day catered to her interests, including:


  • a hot air balloon ride across metro Atlanta
  • hair and make-up at Bob Steele Salon
  • a Mary Poppins lunch experience at The Melting Pot in Midtown
  • free tickets and a backstage meet-and-greet for Mary Poppins at the Fox Theatre
And what did Katelyn think of all this? She summed it up in ten simple words:

"This is the best day of my life so far."

To learn more about Pure Imagination, including how to get your child involved for fundraising for another person's dream day, visit the charity's official web site.

For more stories like this one, you can follow reporter Matt Pearl on Facebook and Twitter.

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