Lyla was welcomed to her family in January of 2012. The youngest of four children and the only girl, Lyla made an impact to her family immediately. We have countless videos of Lyla’s brothers dancing or singing to make her laugh when she was a baby. Even as a young child, her love for her family was evident.
When Lyla was 13 months old, she displayed paralysis. In time she would begin monthly treatments at Tampa General Hospital. She would improve with these treatments but they would make her violently ill for 48 hours. She continued these treatments for her entire life. It was only within the last three months a potential diagnosis was being confirmed. Despite the efforts of her local team, Lyla would travel to Orlando, Houston, Miami and finally Philadelphia to seek answers. Her condition created the need for various other therapies to be done on a weekly basis such as physical and aquatic therapy. Along the road, she would need to complete other medical procedures and complete a spinal fusion in the past summer. It would be easy to complain about the number of visits, the impact to her schedule, and the challenges associated with being sick for two days every month.
Lyla never did.
Rather, Lyla would often express appreciation and be grateful for the experiences she WAS able to complete:
She was an avid fan of her brothers when they competed in sports. Always cheering and yelling. She was able to become a cheerleader for one soccer season. She was the top of the pyramid for ten seconds towards the end of the season, but to hear it from her, it was the biggest moment for her for the year.
She was creative. Lyla loved painting and drawing. She loved the artwork made by her friends and hung it in her room. She was learning to play the flute. She would collaborate with her dad and create ridiculous backstories on her stuffed animals. She loved to bake with her aunt and grandmother.
Speaking of food…
Lyla was a foodie. Whenever she completed her medical treatment each month, she would look forward to Chickfila. Every treatment, for nearly ten years, was completed with a trip to Chickfila for dinner that night. However, her absolute favorite dish is steak. She could easily eat her own weight in steak.
Lyla was incredibly active. She did not allow her disability to be a reason to not participate. She played Sled Hockey, sang in the children’s choir, and rode roller coasters. Lots and lots of roller coasters. She was asked by Tampa General Hospital to drop the ceremonially puck for a Tampa Bay Lightning game. She was in not one but two commercials: One with Tampa General Hospital to promote their service dog program as well as a commercial to highlight State Rep Chris Latvala’s help with her insurance issues. She loved to go to Gatorland with Wheelchairs4Kids each spring and go down the zipline over the alligator filled lake. But her favorite event was always the sailing off of Sand Key. Every yearbook photo of Lyla, she had a tanline around her eyes. She was in the pool swimming all summer; being thrown into the pool by her dad and dancing to music on her huge floating mat with her friends.
Lyla was a friend to all. She made friends everywhere. There would be times we would be late leaving an appointment because Lyla was carried away visiting with staff members. She had no problems making conversation with strangers or explaining to a new doctor how she was feeling. Lyla loved her friends so much and loved doing sleepovers. She would talk about her last sleepover until a new one was scheduled, then contemplate all the various hijinks she would like to do. She was not only social, but thought more highly of others. It was not uncommon for Lyla to try to give her money away for a sibling’s birthday or she would want to give to a missions opportunity discussed in church.
You would never know it by smile, but everyday was a challenge. She would miss school due to medical appointments and need to make up the work. After school, she would have weekly therapy appointments. Simple tasks we all take for granted took longer or were complicated. However, Lyla was always determined to not allow anything to be an excuse and always found a way. Her determination was displayed often each week for “milage club” at school. She did not sit it out, but did her best each week.
Lyla did not have this positive determination and attitude because of her parents or brothers. Rather than being frustrated and bitter, Lyla had a relationship with Christ. At an early age, Lyla realized she was a sinner, repented, and gave her life to Christ. Through the day to day struggles, Lyla was constantly reminded of the bigger picture of her life and expressed gratitude.
Lyla's family seeks to honor her by sponsoring the therapy dog program at Tampa General Hospital