McKinley Blue and her older sister, Miley, have always been close. Their bond is evident immediately upon meeting these blonde-haired, feisty girls. They are both involved in dance, wear matching outfits and play together. That’s why when McKinley was involved in a car accident in May, her big sister Miley was determined to stay by her side every step of the way.
“It’s been amazing to go through this journey with her. Be there for her for all of it,” said Miley.
McKinley arrived at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals—Omaha Campus pediatric unit on May 30, 2018, virtually unresponsive and with little movement. Through a combination of speech, physical and occupational therapy, she started talking, taking steps and identifying pictures. Throughout her recovery, one thing stayed constant – Miley was there by her side, motivating her. “I would help her understand more of what they were trying to say, in McKinley terms, and I would also play with her,” said Miley.
In fact, the 10-year-old has even taken to wearing the same protective signature pink-colored helmet her sister wears, part of her super-sibling support effort.
“I felt like wearing the helmet was going to support her and I wanted her to feel like she was beautiful,” said Miley. After reaffirming her love for her sister, she then admitted “… and, she loves it when we are matching!”
McKinley’s cheering squad goes far beyond her sister. Her family proudly wears #McKinleyStrong T-shirts and friends from her dance studio and school have written supportive messages on poster boards in her room. Even strangers have sent encouraging Facebook messages to her mom, Jessica. On the eve of her fifth birthday, McKinley received the Madonna Spirit Award from her care team on her last day of inpatient therapy. It is an honor driven by Madonna’s staff to recognize patients who demonstrate exemplary dedication to their rehabilitation efforts, stay focused, persevere through setbacks and inspire others. Miley was ecstatic that her sister was chosen for this honor and finds her more than deserving.
“I just love how much she’s recovered, because I know I’m going to have my little sister back,” said Miley.
McKinley will continue to work on her balance and gain strength while going through Madonna’s outpatient therapy programs. In addition to tackling a few more surgeries, McKinley plans on starting Kindergarten in the fall.
“There is no limit to what McKinley can accomplish in her future”, says Cait Scott, speech language pathologist and part of McKinley’s care team at Madonna. “She has so much support around her and she’s a really special little girl.”
To learn more about the unique treatment options for pediatric patients at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals, visit www.madonna.org/pediatrics.
Read more of McKinley's inspiring story here: