Aurora quadriplegic girl’s story helps raise funds, spirits

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Savannah Barish isn’t one to struggle to find the words.

The 11-year-old dance enthusiast who goes by “Sassy” will happily point out that’s she’s adorable, and regularly reminds her nurses that working with her is something of an honor.

So when Children’s Hospital Colorado officials approached the 11-year-old — who has been a Children’s patient since a car crash left her a quadriplegic in 2015 — about helping with last week’s radiothon fundraiser, she jumped at the chance.

The hospital holds a special place for her, and Savannah said she hopes her many appearances on the radio last week could help inspire other kids.

Plus, it was a chance to help out the hospital that helped her.

“I like that they try to get to know you, you’re not just a patient, you’re more like family,” she said, between playfully pestering her former nurse on a recent afternoon at Children’s.

Last week’s Alice 105.9 Cares for Kids radiothon raised $1.25 million for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals benefiting Children’s Hospital Colorado. The two-day radiothon, broadcast live on KALC, started at 6 a.m. Feb. 9,and wrapped up 36 hours later, at 6 p.m. Feb. 10.

Savannah was one of several past or current Children’s patients and staffers who made appearances during the event.

Over the past 16 years, the event has raised almost $22 million, according to the hospital.

“I was shocked at how much money they made,” Savannah said, before turning a knowing glare to her nurse. “Did you donate?”

The nurse affirmed she had.

Savannah first came to Children’s in July 2015 after a major car accident left her seriously hurt.

Her mom, Heather Barish, said Savannah stayed at Children’s through October of that year, a three-month stretch that included the precocious kid’s 10th birthday.

That’s a shorter stay than many Children’s patients, Heather added, but it was nerve-wracking.

“It still seemed like forever,” she said.

Now, Savannah returns about every 90 days to see pulmonary specialists at the hospital.

“This is a great fit for her,” Heather said.

The doctors at Children’s have a knack for being upfront with parents, she said, regardless of how serious their child’s injuries might be.

“What I liked is they were just pretty straightforward and blunt,” Heather said.

Plus, there’s always an air of positivity at the hospital that Heather said rubbed off on Savannah and now, her, too.

“She is so positive about the whole thing. I just can’t not be,” she said.

After her hospital stay, Savannah started designing hospital gowns for other patients at Children’s. The gown she first received was a bit “ugly,” Savannah said, so she wanted something prettier.

Heather Barish said so far the program, “Sassy Savvy’s,” has given away about 600 gowns and she has another 700 almost ready to go.

“It’s a huge passion for her,” she said.

Looking forward, Savannah wants to be a nurse who works with infants, Barish said. And she’d like to do that at Children’s Hospital.