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Roanoke teen battling brain tumor gives back to children at hospital

The 18-year-old gifted IV pole ‘lily pads’ to help children get around hospital

A Roanoke teenager is taking her own battle with a brain tumor and turning it into something positive.

ROANOKE, Va. – Like other 18-year-olds, Clara Sherman is looking forward to heading off to college.“I really want to go to school at either Roanoke College or Elon University,” said Sherman “And I really want to become a financial advisor.”

But Sherman stands out from her classmates. The Patrick Henry High School senior is a Girl Scout and she’s working towards the highest achievement they can earn: the Gold Award.

“I’m so excited to get finished with it,” said Sherman.

After a year-and-a-half of planning and work, on Wednesday, she dropped off the finished project at Carilion Children’s Hospital: IV pole “lily pads” she built herself. Her fellow classmates in AP art class helped her paint them.

“They’re wooden disks that slide onto an IV pole and they’re painted with fun designs,” said Sherman.

Kids can sit, stand or kneel on the pads and get around the hospital more easily.

“I know from experience, being in the hospital, it’s like, it’s not that fun and when you’re connected to an IV pole, I mean, there’s not much to do,” said Sherman.

At 10 years old, Sherman was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“We assume that it’s been there since, I mean, I was born,” said Sherman.

Since then, she’s been in and out of the hospital and on chemotherapy. She came up with the idea for the lily pads based on her own experience.

”It allows the kid to feel connected to the IV pole and not scared of it anymore,” said Sherman. “I was scared of it until my mom took me to the bathroom many times on it. But I’d have to stand on the legs.”

Carilion Child Life Specialist Carli Holtzhauer said Sherman’s story is inspiring.

“She’s going to make a difference in the lives of the kids here,” said Holtzhauer. “It’s really just so touching.”

Despite what life’s thrown at her, Sherman chooses to see the bright side.

“I’m the luckiest of the unluckiest people because really, I had a loving family. I had caring, I had great friends. I’ve had supportive people all around me,” said Sherman. “I don’t know if [I would say my experience was] hard because it’s brought so much good into the world.”

She hopes these lily pads will help kids like her get through a tough time.

“I hope they really, kind of, touch their hearts and make them feel special,” said Sherman.

About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!