A Dream Come True

May 1, 2013 | By More

Most girls dream of going to the prom with a handsome prince, but Kaylee Murphy isn’t an ordinary 10 year old. Kaylee has Oculoauricular Dysplasia (OAV) or Goldenhar Syndrome, a congenital birth defect which deforms the face, and in Kaylee’s case, twists the spine. 

Kaylee’s deformities don’t stop her though. Like other fourth graders at Ozark Upper Elementary School, she loves to play at the city pool in the summer. That’s where she met lifeguard Ty Radley, a tall, dark, and handsome Ozark High School senior who gallantly saved her from bullies.

Kaylee’s mother, Rachel Graves was so impressed by Ty’s compassionate action she told her boss, who offered Ty an after- school job at the movie rental store where Rachel works.

Months later, Ty was working with Kaylee’s mother when she told him that Kaylee often dreamed of going to a prom, but doubted that she would.

“Who’s going to want to take someone with a face like this to the Prom?” Kaylee sadly asked her mother.

Ty wanted to help Kaylee, but like many teenage boys, he also disliked proms.

“I think proms are highly overrated and stupid so I didn’t attend my girlfriend’s prom. But little Kaylee has so many problems and I wanted to make her happy so I asked her to my prom,” explained Ty.

Unfortunately, Kaylee had a series of major surgeries at a St Louis hospital scheduled around the date of Ty’s high school prom; surgeries that would keep Kaylee in the hospital for at least three months if she survived the ordeal. During a previous operation to remove Kaylee’s tonsils and adenoids, she literally died on the operating table three times. “It was a compressed air way due to the severe curvature of her neck,” explained her mother, who is a single mother of three young girls and also a full time college student.

With time running out before Kaylee would be was hospitalized again, Ty decided to throw a Kaylee a “surprise” Prom instead. Ty enlisted the help of other students, borrowed decorations from the high school and Kaylee’s family rented out the fair building for Kaylee’s big night.

Meanwhile, Kaylee knew nothing about the prom plans. To keep the prom day surprise, Kaylee’s mother told her they were going to have a “girl’s day” and mother and daughter went shopping for new dresses and were treated to complimentary hairstyles, make-up and nails.

Once Kaylee was all dressed up, her mother took her to city hall where the County Sheriff was waiting to give Kaylee a ride in his patrol vehicle.

Little did Kaylee know she was heading for the biggest night of her life when the car pulled up at the fairgrounds. Standing on the front steps of the building was Ty, who reached down to ask Kaylee, “Will you go to the Prom with me?” When she agreed, Ty yelled out to the 90 Prom goers hidden inside, “Kaylee said Yes!” and escorted her down a red carpet to a special platform where Kaylee was crowned “Prom Queen”.

Kaylee, who is naturally shy, was not happy at first and told Ty, “I’ll get you for this.” However, she was soon dancing and having a wonderful time. In fact, Ty said that she went right back onto the dance floor as soon as she was crowned.

Kaylee’s big night lasted almost three hours as she danced and had official prom photos taken with many prom goers. “Regular proms don’t even last that long!” said Ty.

“People say I’m Kaylee’s hero, but she’s my hero and inspiration. Jesus loved me first so I am able to love others, said Ty, who is active in the youth group at his church.

“It’s been amazing how big an impact a 10 year old girl could be on me. My whole perspective on life has drastically improved. Because of her, I’ve decided to get a BSN (Bachelor of Science Nursing) so I can help people like Kaylee. If Kaylee can get through her suffering with a smile on her face, so can I,” said Ty.

According to Kaylee’s mother, this was the best day of her life and while Kaylee was sore from all the dancing, she will have a photo album of prom pictures at the hospital to remind her of that magical day.

As it turns out, Kaylee is still awaiting hospitalization. Her surgeries were rescheduled due to insurance liability problems. The first surgery involves a halo of metal rods screwed into her skull for a month of painful full body traction. Next, a trachea will be put in Kaylee’s throat to ease her breathing during the next two major surgeries. The final surgeries will be the most dangerous as her spine will be cut and severed in two places so it can be straightened and rebuilt. If the surgeries are successful, it is hoped Kaylee will be able to live a more normal life.

Despite the pain and suffering ahead, Kaylee is anticipating a happy future and told Ty she was looking forward to dancing with him at the pool next summer.

A fund to help with Kaylee’s medical expenses and upcoming hospitalization costs has been set up at Simmons First Bank in Ozark.

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