Only in Indiana: Jalen's bedside karaoke

(WTHR Photo)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – He has had more than his fair share of mountains to climb but he still finds a reason to sing, even from his bed at Riley Hospital.

It's been a rough time for 19-year-old Jalen Pigg.

Out of the last 100 days, he has spent 80 of them at Riley Hospital for Children.

"Mom get ready," Jalen Pigg says from his hospital bed at Riley Hospital. "Did you just say mom get ready," a nurse asks with a smile.

"He's a very spiritual child. Very musical inclined and she saved him," Jalen's mother Marni Brown shared referring to Musical Therapist Caitlin Krater.

"For him music is so important and each song is connected to a person or a memory," Krater told us.

So she brought in a microphone and a small speaker for what can only be called "Jalen's bedside karaoke".

"There have been times we have a whole group outside the door and like you said he called the nurses in and says this is for you," she continued.

"You did Michael Jackson yesterday and I missed it? Man in the Mirror. Yes look at his face," another nurse said. "Yah I did," Jalen answered.

So they sit by his bed, captured by the moment.

"On his darkest days she can bring anything out of him," said Marni Brown. "She makes him smile and looks forward to it and expresses that through his music."

Jalen was 200 pounds and every bit the athlete when he was first admitted.

His battle against lymphoblastic leukemia, which down syndrome kids are susceptible to, now has him down to 136 pounds but he continues to compete for a very different audience.

"When the nurse who has to poke you and give you your medicine that does not make you feel so good is the same nurse you want to sign a song to that's special," Caitlin Krater said.

And it's not just the nurses. This time a group of residents are providing accompaniment and encouragement but the good news is they have done their job.

Jalen is scheduled to be dismissed this Friday.