Former Riley patient speaks out in support of hospital

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No one wants to see a child suffer, but sometimes during a health crisis, children are champions who inspire us.

A Greenwood teenager persevering through a debilitating illness is urging support for the hospital that changed her life.

Sneha Dave is pounding the tennis court with her sister, instead of suffering pounding pain that devastated her body since the tender age of six.

"I remember going to watch my sister play tennis and I was not able to get on the court. But now, when I'm on the court, I try to cherish every single moment.

Dave, 15, was once so sick, her mother Seema says "she couldn't leave the house. She couldn't do anything. She couldn't hardly go to school a full day."

Her young body is strong today, but for years, she was physically wasting away, barely able to eat, moving with frail and faltering steps.

"I didn't realize how much fun life can be, really," Sneha said.

"She got so weak, I used to hold her because I'd think that she would fall down or pass out," said her mother.

Sneha was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease causing ulcers on the large intestine.

"It gets inflamed and then when that happens, your whole body, your immune system, starts not to work and you get blisters in your mouth, you develop skin nodules, you get fevers," Sneha said.

But she persevered, with a strength beyond her years.

"She is just always so positive. I'm just so proud of her. Despite being so sick, chronically ill, she still managed to stay top in her class," Seema said.

Life-changing surgery at Riley Hospital for Children last year ended Sneha's plight. So today, with wisdom gained through sickness, she is dedicated to helping others.

"It's not about just getting better, but it's about getting better and doing something," Sneha said.

She writes a newsletter to inspire other teens who have inflammatory bowel disease.

"To really make them feel that they're not alone," she said.

She created the newsletter with her best friend, Cory Lane, another Riley patient with inflammatory bowel disease. Cory died of cancer before Sneha published the first newsletter.

"We wanted to go out there and make a difference in this world," Sneha said.

So she is making a difference in Cory's memory.

"I want to honor Cory for as long as I live," she said.

She honors Riley Hospital for helping her live.

"Everyone there was amazing," she said. "And I really, really want to do something for Riley Hospital."

So she and her family speak out, urging people to support Riley Hospital for changing and saving children's lives.

"Riley means everything to me. They have provided us with excellent care. They have given me hope," Seema said.

"Their motto 'Hope Happens Here' is not just a motto. It's a definition for every single kid that walks out of Riley Hospital, including me," Sneha said.

Sneha was recently honored as a Riley Champion and hopes some day to work at Riley as an interventional radiologist and help other children.