CATEGORY: News and Community
Fifteen-year-old Kayla Hoover is battling a rare brain disorder, but that isn’t stopping the Mayfield Heights teen from making the most of each day. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her. The progression of Kayla’s brain tumor prevents her from enjoying many of the activities she used to love. So Michelle Miller, a social worker on Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Pediatric Palliative Care team, worked a little magic to make one of Kayla’s special wishes come true.
“When I asked Kayla if she could think of an experience she would like to master, her eyes opened up so wide and she said, ‘Yes! I would love to learn how to cook,’” Michelle said.
Zachary Ladner, the master chef at Giovanni’s, is a friend of Michelle’s, so she approached him after a workout at the gym one day to see if he would consider helping out. Chef Zach and his wife Alyssa, the pastry chef, not only jumped at the chance, but provided a once-in-a-lifetime memory Kayla and her family will always treasure.
The two chefs at the five-star restaurant in Beachwood not only provided Kayla with three private cooking lessons in the kitchen at Giovanni’s, but they also donated all the food and ingredients to prepare an Italian feast for her family members and friends. Kayla worked with Chef Zach to select the dishes she wanted to learn how to prepare, and planned her own menu.
“Taking the cooking lessons with the chefs and planning the celebration for her family and friends brought Kayla so much joy,” Michelle said. “She not only loved the experience; she also confided in me how much it meant to have something else to focus on besides doctor appointments and medical treatments.”
Following dinner, the husband and wife chef team surprised Kayla by presenting her with her own chef’s jacket with her name embroidered on the front. Hospice of the Western Reserve borrowed Kayla’s favorite home recipes and worked with teen volunteers to create a cookbook, which was given to Kayla and all of the party guests.
Hospice also presented Kayla with a gift basket filled with culinary treasures. Seven-year-old sister Gianna, a budding artist, received a gift basket overflowing with art supplies.
“I was so happy and grateful that Kayla was able to do what she loved,” said Jennifer Radicella, Kayla’s mother. “Without the help and support of Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Pediatric Palliative Care program and its Moments to Remember program, none of this would have been possible.”