ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Blues will honor 21-year-old Hali Smith of Ballwin during Tuesday night’s game against the Nashville Predators.
Hali just finished chemotherapy treatments at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. She triumphantly rang the bell to mark the moment with dozens of friends, relatives, and hospital workers surrounding her. She spent nearly 290 days in the hospital over the past three years.
“Hali’s never blinked at this. She’s always kept her smile,” said Michael Smith, Hali’s father.
She was three months out of high school when diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
“It was crazy. It was like my whole life was in front of me and it just came to a complete stop,” Hali said.
Things got worse. The treatments were so toxic they caused a stroke-like reaction. She lost the use of her right side and her ability to speak. She had to relearn it all and keep taking chemo.
“It’s sad to say but you live or you die,” her dad said. “We chose to fight. I told her this is something we had to do. Her attitude from that point on was light the candle, let’s go.”
“She had to dig deep, work really hard. She never gave up,” said Amy Westfall, Hali’s occupational therapist.
“All of the words of encouragement from my friends, family, people that I know, just kept me going,” Hali said.
There have been more hugs than she can count. She’s also gotten a big boost from the St. Louis Blues. Players Colton Parayko and Ryan Reeves (who has since been traded from the Blues) visited her at the hospital.
Hali’s heroics rubbed off on them that the hospital bell ringing was just a warmup. She will ring a bell during the first intermission of the Predator’s game, becoming the first St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer patient to do so.
“I don’t think it actually hit until I looked at my bottle of medicine at home that night and it said you’re finished taking chemo … I’m like, ‘Oh wow, I actually stop taking chemo, that’s my last dose of chemo’ that night,” she said. “That is one of the best feelings, being done with it…being able to go to my second Blues game is cool in general. Being able to ring the bell at the game is even more awesome.”
“I couldn’t see anything more fitting for her. She’s ending something also with a new beginning. She’s the first of this as she’s ending this. I just love it,” Westfall beamed.
“Today’s one of the best days of my life; second to her being born. It’s like she’s been born again. It’s a new start,” Hali’s dad said. “Miracles happen…people need to believe that.”
Hali finally gets to go to college now. Ultimately, she said she wants to train police dogs.