CHICAGO (CBS) — It was an emotional moment for former Mayor Richard M. Daley on Tuesday, as a haven for hospitalized kids was dedicated at the new Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Kevin’s Garden is named after Daley’s late son, Kevin, who died before his third birthday, due to complications from spina bifida. There’s another Kevin’s Garden at Children’s Memorial Hospital in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. The hospital is moving to the Streeterville neighborhood this summer, and is being renamed in honor of the Lurie family, who have been major donors to the hospital.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports the new Kevin’s Garden features a futuristic fountain in the shape of a sphere, splash of colorful plants and flowers, and sunshine and fresh air 11 stories up – on a high-rise patio at the new hospital, which opens in June.
“I remember the darling Kevin, with his bright eyes, and open-mouthed smile, and a silent laugh,” said Nancy Wachs, director of patient relations at Children’s Memorial
Kevin Daley was transferred to Children’s Memorial Hospital just four hours after his birth in 1979, due to problems with spina bifida.
“Kevin’s problem was he couldn’t breathe,” His neurosurgeon, Dr. David McClone, said. “He underwent multiple procedures to try to determine what caused his problems with breathing, and attempts to repair this defect.”
But Kevin died, just 33 months old, in 1981.
When Richard M. Daley was elected mayor, he and his wife Maggie used money from their inaugural balls to endow a garden play program at Children’s Memorial Hospital, in Kevin’s honor.
The garden at the new hospital will permanently bear Kevin’s name.
Kevin’s nurse, Marti Barthel, said, “Through the vision of Maggie and Rich and the Daley family, this garden honors Kevin’s life; and is an enduring gift of comfort, hope and life to all who enter these doors.”
All of the Daley brothers were on hand Tuesday: Richard, John, Bill and Michael.
The former mayor’s children, Patrick Daley, Nora Daley Conroy, and Elizabeth “Lally” Daley Hotchkiss helped their father cut the ribbon.
But the former mayor, clearly full of emotion, didn’t publicly speak a single word.
After sitting down, he dabbed his tears, and was comforted by his daughter Nora, who put her arm around his shoulder.
Whenever the former mayor talks about Kevin – and he has many times over the years – the pain of the loss is evident. But with his wife, Maggie, now gone as well, Tuesday appeared to be particularly tough on him.
The late Maggie Daley decided to honor Kevin with the outdoor garden, because that’s what the patients at Children’s Memorial Hospital said they wanted most – a chance to escape their confinement to get some fresh air and sunlight.