Children of Change: Teen gives back to hospital that saved her life

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)-  When you look at 13 year-old Finley Hooker, she looks like the picture of health.

“I do tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, basically everything,” said Finley.

You would never know she has to work much harder than the average teen to do simple things.

“My whole right side, I can’t feel as much as I can on my left side. So, I have to work harder to make sure I can feel it. For dance I have to make sure I do as much as I can on my left side because I can’t feel it.” 

Finley has trouble with the feeling in her right side because three days after she was born, she suffered a stroke. Finley’s mother, Kristen, will never forget that terrifying time.

“She was still in the hospital in Williamsburg and she started having seizures the night before we were supposed to go home,” says Kristen Hooker-Watkins.

Finley Hooker and her mother walked the halls of CHKD while giving back to children (WAVY).

Baby Finley was rushed to Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.

“Once we got here to CHKD we just had this sense of calm and peace. You know you’re in the right place for your kid,” says Kristen. “You just know that they’re a huge asset to our community and that your kid is getting the best care.”

Finley recovered, but still meets with CHKD doctors and physical therapists regularly. As a way to give back, she and her family created Finley’s Party with a Purpose.

“I have a party with a purpose and instead of gifts, I ask for money or donations for CHKD,” says Finley.

The party is big, with fun themes, and even a DJ!

“This year I’ve raised $1,800 and then overall, my 13 birthdays, I’ve raised $17,200.”

All of that money goes to CHKD. It helps with services that aren’t reimbursable by insurance. Kate Ryan, a development officer for CHKD explains what some of those programs are.

“Our Buddy Brigade Pet Therapy Dogs that come visit our patients, art therapy, our child life team. I say their job is really to play with kids, but they help expain the procedures in kid terms. They expain it to their siblings who might not understand why my sister’s not coming home from the hospital and so, just things that aren’t reimbursable by insurance but that are so important to the care of our children.”

Ryan said the hospital is so thankful for the donations for Finley’s Party with a Purpose, but it’s Finley who says she is the thankful one. She hopes other children follow her lead and give back.

“No matter if it’s small or if it’s big, you can do anything as long as you try and you want to help somebody or help anything, then you can do it,” says Finley.

There are a number of special ways children can get involved with raising money for CHKD like Finley! Click here to learn about all of the fun things you can do.

If you know of a child making a difference in their community or school, let Katie Collett know about it!

You can email her: Katie.Collett@wavy.com

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