Her friends made sure that the little girl would go into the surgery with a smile, knowing there were people rooting for her.
If there wasn't a raging pandemic claiming people's lives daily, then 11-year-old Ryan Neighbors' hospital room would be filled with friends and family crowding around her before she goes in for surgery. But given the current restrictions, her well-wishers couldn't pay her a visit before she went in for the medical procedure.
Born with a condition known as spina bifida, Ryan has already had more than 40 surgeries throughout her short lifetime and she was around half an hour away from her 48th surgery when her friends gave her a heartwarming surprise.
While Ryan was lying in bed at the Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, she looked outside the window and was confused at first. But within a few moments, she realized just how much her friends cared for her.
Standing on the rooftop of the hospital's garage, Ryan's friends showed up with a bunch of signs and a bundle of love for the little girl. Separated by a window and a distance of a few feet, Ryan and her friends exchanged a memorable moment, where the little girl could see how much her friends were rooting for her as she was 30 minutes away from going into her surgery.
"We Love You Ryan," screamed one of the posters that the friends held up for the girl to see. Flying kisses were also passed on from one side to the other.
De De Cox, a longtime family friend told WLKY, "It doesn't take a lot and what did we do today? We gave time. We all have time."
Ryan and Cox have a special relationship as the latter, who is known for working with children that have chronic ailments, has worked with Ryan as well in the past. Cox, being a former WLKY Bell Award Winner, has coached Ryan for pageants and she knew that a few minutes of cheering from the parking garage of a hospital was enough to help Ryan go into the surgery with a smile.
"Before she goes into surgery she gets to see us and know there's people behind her who need her to get well and want her to get well to get back on the stage and be Ryan again," said another friend, Hannah Robb.
On a Facebook page called Team Ryan, a post said, "SURPRISE !! Our pageant family came to see Ryan off to Surgery... Big MOMMA tears omg we have the best village! grateful is an understatement."
Ryan has spent the last seven weeks on a hospital but doctors are yet to decide if she can be discharged in time to celebrate the holidays at home. However, her friends are not losing hope. Instead, they're doing all they can to put a smile on her face, from a distance.
As Cox was captured sending a kiss towards Ryan's window, she said, "It will be okay. It's got to be okay."
Although this time, the friends had to settle for the 9th-floor garage of the hospital, they hope that the next time they cheer for the young pageant queen, they will be standing in an auditorium with a huge crowd that is cheering alongside them for the little girl.