A sea of purple.
That’s how Martin Middle School teacher Sandi Bigham described the scene on Thursday when middle school students bore bright purple bracelets on their wrists.
Along with the middle school, the scene was much the same over at Martin Primary’s afterschool program, other local businesses like Studio 311 and Martin Pediatric Clinic and the First United Methodist Church.
The bracelets symbolized hope and support for one special four-year-old girl and the event was simply and aptly titled, “A Day for Sadie.”
Sadie Catherine Bell is the daughter of Steve and Erica Bell and she has two older sisters, Erin and Emily Grace.
Born on May 8, Sadie just celebrated her fourth birthday, but it’s been anything but an easy four years.
Not long after she was born, it was apparent that she was not growing at the rate of other children her age. She was much smaller in weight and stature.
After a lengthy 2 1/2-year search and seeing many physicians and having many more tests and hospital stays, Sadie was finally diagnosed with pituitary dwarfism and growth hormone deficiency related to a damaged pituitary gland. This brought on nightly hormone injections and, since then, she has been growing “by leaps and bounds.”
However, in March, Sadie faced another setback when she was diagnosed with craniosynostosis.
Sadie’s family learned, following a CT scan, that some of her growth sutures in her head had closed prematurely and were causing frontal bossing and irregular cranial shape to occur. In order to prevent cranial swelling and limit brain development down the road, she was slated to undergo cranial reconstruction with Dr. Kelly (a pediatric plastic surgeon) and Dr. Pearson (a pediatric neurosurgeon) on Thursday at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
In preparation for her surgery, her big sister Erin and her church youth group at Martin First United Methodist Church wanted to do something special for Sadie, as the thought of the surgery was a bit scary for everyone.
Thus was born the idea for “A Day for Sadie,” said Becca Alexander, youth minister for Martin First United Methodist Church.
The day consisted of a 24-hour prayer vigil for Sadie on the day of her surgery, as well as a coordinated community effort to wear purple (Sadie’s favorite color) the day of the surgery and the selling of bracelets reading, “Praying for Sadie,” for $1 each.
The response was so enormous that the first order of 200 bracelets sold out in just 36 hours.
Ms. Alexander referred to the response for “A Day for Sadie” as “amazing.”
“People from all over the country sent messages and pictures of themselves wearing purple in support of Sadie. It was truly an amazing day,” she said.
“The procedure took about six hours. Imagine Sadie’s skull to be an 8-by-10 puzzle which Dr. Kelly turned magically into an 11-by-17 puzzle,” she said. “The added puzzle pieces are dissolvable sugar plates held together with dissolvable sugar screws and a few metal wires. The goal is that her bones will grow over the plates. While her growth hormone deficiency is a strike against her, she has had amazing results with her nightly growth hormone injections and she is currently recovering in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.”
Ms. Alexander said the community can stay involved with Sadie’s progress and continue to show love and support by praying daily.
“She has a long recovery ahead of her. Pain and swelling are major obstacles at this time, along with keeping the head of an active four year old still and flat against the bed,” Ms. Alexander said.
Bracelets can still be purchased to spread awareness. More bracelets have arrived at Martin First United Methodist Church and can be purchased for $1 each, with all proceeds going to Sadie’s family.
E-cards can be sent to Sadie by going to www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org and updates can be obtained from Sadie’s mother by joining her page at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sadiebell.