Chelsea and Leila
Sometimes ordinary activities can lead to extraordinary experiences. This was the case for Chelsea when her morning routine opened the door to a whole new adventure as a Big Sister.
“I live in the neighborhood near the Big Brothers Big Sisters office,” said Chelsea. “And in the morning, I’d go running by there and I’d think, ‘It would be fun to do something with them as an organization since I live close by.’ That was in 2019 and Leila and I have been matched ever since.”
“It wasn’t ever since…,” chimes in Little Sister Leila, who is eleven. “It was the day before second grade and I’d already been in another program, but it was kind of ‘iffy.’ Then Chelsea came and she made it more fun. And… I guess we have been together ever since.”
The pair have had a great time since their match began, going on a variety of outings, and discussing the future. “We like going swimming, skating, and exploring ideas about the medical field, because Chelsea works in a hospital,” said Leila. “We talk about that.”
Chelsea works in medical device sales and interacts with all the local hospitals. Her occupation has fueled Leila’s interest in the medical profession. “Seton Medical Center held a ‘Bring the Kids to the Operating Room’ day and it was really great,” said Chelsea. “Leila got to participate, and I think she was only 7.”
“It was Halloween,” added Leila, “and I got to fish in a (fake human) chest for candy. It was really cool.”
Leila recently participated in a summer Girls Start program which further inspired her medical interests. “I went to Stem I. It was all about medical stuff,” said Leila. “We learned a lot. We learned about blood, and I learned about different types of sutures. I got to decorate a lab coat, I worked on Ozobots which are like little robots that roll around and you make a path for them with different codes of colors. I also made an origami heart, and a prosthetic made of pvc pipe, and I made a real-life operation game.”
Whew! Leila was a busy young woman, but she bubbles over with enthusiasm as she recalls that summer adventure. An experience that was nurtured by her Big’s job, her love of the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, and a situation Leila has dealt with for a number of years – multiple hip surgeries.
“I had to have surgery because my growth plate was bad,” Leila said matter-of-factly. “Now I have a screw in my left hip. Then last year I had a second surgery on the other hip.”
“My orthopedic surgeon is really kind,” she added.
“Were you telling him how to perform the surgery?” laughed Chelsea.
“No,” smiled Leila, “but before they put me on the anesthesia and before I had to count backwards, my surgeon had music playing, and I asked him, ‘What is this music?’ and he asked me what he should be listening to and I said, ‘Cardi B.’”
Serious music for a young woman who knows what she wants to do. “I’m going to be a general pediatric surgeon,” said Leila. “I always knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t always know medicine would be for me.”
She is also getting into fitness and dance. “She is going into sixth grade and at her year-end talent show she did a solo all by herself onstage. It was awesome,” said Chelsea.
The best thing about their match? “The best thing is we understand each other,” said Leila. “’Cause, sometimes I have attitude and she gives me space. We just understand how to communicate with each other. We’ve been together for a lot of years now.”
“For me,” said Chelsea, “being a Big pushes me. We kind of push each other. We push each other’s buttons, yes, but we also push each other to try new things. Leila will get me to try kimchi and to set goals in different ways. I push her to try activities, saying ‘Let’s go on a hike’ or ‘Let’s go canoeing.’”
Leila inserts, “If I’m being honest, that was hot.”
To which Chelsea laughs, “Yeah, but we tried it. The moral of the story is we pushed each other, and we did it.”
Watching the joy with which these two interact, there’s no doubt that there are many adventures ahead for this medical dynamic duo.