Cheers, high fives and hugs met survivors as they walked down the red carpet at Friday’s “Celebrate Life” at CTCA outside Chicago. The annual event honors the hospital’s five-year survivors with enthusiasm and panache.
This year was no different.
“Congratulations! Good for you!” the Rev. Percy McCray called out to survivors as they walked past and into a pitched white tent. CTCA employees formed the cheering squad along with McCray, Director of Pastoral Care at CTCA outside Chicago.
Moments later, McCray told survivors he gets goose bumps at every Celebrate Life. Friday was his 16th.
“This day, it gives us perspective on why we do the things we do. It gives us meaning. It gives us hope,” McCray said. His voice building to a crescendo, McCray boomed, “It’s good to be alive!” to vigorous cheering.
Themed “Living the Moments,” Celebrate Life at Midwestern was the hospital’s biggest event yet with 105 survivors in attendance. In total, CTCA outside Chicago has 301 five-year survivors this year.
Three trees were planted outside the tent for the event. CTCA is making a donation to the Arbor Day Foundation in each survivor’s name and trees will be planted around the country for each survivor.
In addition, a gold leaf with each survivor’s name was added to the symbolic trees on two walls in Midwestern’s lobby. Survivors gathered there during the event to take photographs with their gold leaf.
Annie Stephenson Holsonback, daughter of CTCA founder Richard Stephenson, told the survivors that the tree is a metaphor for the human spirit – strong and vibrant, yet able to bend in the wind.
Survivors later watched as five doves were released, posed for group photos, met prospective patients at the hospital and gathered for a healthy lunch, where they were feted with song and speeches.
At the lunch, Richard Stephenson told survivors: “You’re heroes to all of us at CTCA…. It’s always about you – only and always about you – as it should be in health care.”