Lizzie Agee had every intention of taking part in Project Night Lights.
She just thought she would be a well-wisher outside the hospital, not a patient on the inside.
But after an epilepsy seizure sent her to the emergency room early Wednesday morning, the 16-year-old girl decided to make the best of it.
On the 11th floor of Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Lizzie peered out the window into the darkening night, flashlight in hand, shining a friendly hello.
“Oh, my gosh,” she said softly. “Wow.”
Before her spread a squiggly sea of lights.
White flashlights and colorful glow sticks blinked and swirled as people gathered on the sidewalks below. Police cars and emergency vehicles on a nearby parking ramp shined red, blue, yellow and green lights.
Groups of motorbikes drove up and down Michigan Street NE, headlights glowing.
A whirring sound caught Lizzie’s eye and she looked up. An Aero Med helicopter circled the building, lights blinking front and back.
“Look at all those lights,” she said. “It’s so cool. All those people coming together—I just want to cry.”
The fourth Project Night Lights at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital held a special meaning Wednesday evening: It tied in with the celebration of the hospital’s 25th birthday.
The event, which drew hundreds of light-bearing well-wishers to the hospital, delivered a touching goodnight to the young patients as well as a happy birthday to the hospital.
“If you think of each flashlight representing a candle, we had a lot of candles on our cake today,” said Russ Hoekstra, a Child Life manager. “It’s neat to see hundreds of people show up for your birthday party.”
The event, organized by the Child Life team, law enforcement agencies and Silent Observer, gives the community a chance to send messages of support and good wishes.
The event, held the second Wednesday of every month at 8:30 p.m., is scheduled to continue at least through December, Hoekstra said.
Lizzie and her mother, Kathy Agee, had planned to be in the crowd of well-wishers on the sidewalk. Lizzie, who was diagnosed with epilepsy two years ago, thought it would be a meaningful way to show support for hospitalized kids.
But when she had issues with a seizure the night before, she came into the hospital for monitoring. She sat in her room, gauze wrapped around her head, bundling the wires attached to the electrodes for an EEG.
“I wasn’t really expecting this, but I think the Lord is in control,” said Lizzie, a junior at Northpoint Christian High School. “Whatever happens, it’s going to be OK.”
As 8:30 p.m. neared, she and her mom moved to the 11th floor for a better view. Later, they were joined by a friend from school, Lizzie’s dad, Dean, and her brother Truman.
Kathy marveled at the compassion shown by the beaming light display.
“It just means so much,” she said. “People are going out of their way, just for strangers, and shining a light. That is huge.”