The Children's Institute Blog

Children's Institute Patient Wins Spirit of Pittsburgh Award

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 by The Children's Institute


A patient at The Children’s Institute is being honored by the foundation of one of Pittsburgh’s own.

The Bob O’Connor Foundation – organized in memory of the late Pittsburgh mayor, who died while in office in 2006 – will present Nia Holyfield with its Spirit of Pittsburgh award during a ceremony next month. Several staffers from The Children’s Institute plan to attend.

Nia, a former inpatient now receiving outpatient services here, suffered a bout of meningitis at age 17 in 2012 that left her paralyzed from the neck down. Today, Nia now is working on getting around during therapy sessions with a walker, fine-tuning her balance, and attending Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in hopes that she can one day become a nurse and give back.

“This changed me, made me more wise, made me better. It helped me grow as a person,” Nia said last summer. “Sometimes, I can't do things a typical 21-year-old can do. But, in a lot of ways, I’m doing things most 21-year-olds aren’t doing.”

“Nia has come so far since her initial diagnosis. It is rare to see a teen/young adult, with challenges such as Nia’s, take such an active part in their treatment and have the determination to coordinate their own care, manage transportation and schedules with little help from others,” said inpatient social worker Christine O’Brien in a nominator statement for the award. “Nia sets her goals high and works hard towards achieving them. Nia is a pleasure to know and I am truly honored to be a witness to her determination and drive and to nominate her for this award.”

Those behind the O’Connor award agreed.

“What caught our attention about Nia was her spirit of overcoming and never giving up,” said the foundation’s Heidy Garth. “My dad never gave up and wanted to help others. Nia has the same spirit and drive that he did.”




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