Maddy Straughn recently spoke at the opening of Akron Children’s Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center about her friendship with Lauren Gartner, one of the inspirations for the new center. Here’s her story:
I met Lauren Gartner in the third grade when I moved to Canton Country Day School. We clicked right away, and it wasn’t long before we were playing house, doing each other’s makeup, gluing on fake nails and having sleepovers. During the middle of our fourth grade year, Lauren noticed a funny line in her left eye, and her mom took her to get it checked out. A few weeks later my mom hesitantly told me my best friend had cancer. Though most people would assume this would negatively affect a relationship between two 10 year olds, it actually brought us closer.
The majority of the time Lauren came to Akron Children’s Hospital, I was with her. Coloring, making crafts or decorating was a form of escape for Lauren and me. During her six-month illness, we spent many days and nights creating memories by expressing ourselves through music, dance and art.
Lauren taught me at a young age that no matter what your circumstances are, you can always grow. I feel that the new Expressive Therapy Center will provide patients and their families a place to escape and heal. I know Lauren and I would have created not only beautiful artwork, but wonderful memories in here. My wish is that the Expressive Therapy Center will be a place of comfort, hope and inspiration to all who visit the center now and in the future.