Starke County native brings best friend's legacy to Riley Children's Hospital

NOW: Starke County native brings best friend’s legacy to Riley Children’s Hospital

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- “Her zest for life, she was always happy, always smiling, just such a wonderful person, and I think I bring a little bit of that with me when I come to work,” says Caitlin Dougherty, Certified Child Life Specialist. “Just try to be that positive person for people and bring that good happy energy, and when you are in a hospital setting that can be hard to find.”

18 years ago, Caitlin Dougherty had to say goodbye to one of her closest friends, Megan Salhoff. In 2004, Salhoff was involved in a serious car accident, leaving burns over 70% of her body, and tragically, passed away a month later.

This sudden loss lead Dougherty here.

“I have pictures of her at my desk, and she really is the true inspiration for why I love to work with the population that I work with and getting to just be with these kids every day and empower them. They are so strong, and the things they endure are so inspiring to me as well, and I definitely bring that to work with me everyday.”

She is a child life specialist in the burn unit at riley children’s health. Her desire to help these kids stems from the memory and legacy of her best friend, Megan.

“So, I knew going in that if I did go to work with children that I definitely wanted to work in the hospital setting, and I definitely wanted to work with the burn population.”

Now, Dougherty leaves work every day feeling inspired for the determination these young burn victims possess.

 “It is definitely the resiliency of the kids I work with, seeing them persevere and overcome all of the different challenges in the hospital and come out stronger on the other side that is just so rewarding and getting to have that experience with them. They give back to me just as much as I give back to them.”

Despite the hardships of life, Dougherty continues to honor Salhoff daily through the everlasting bonds she continues to cultivate at Riley Children’s Hospital.

All in memory of Megan.

“So, one of our favorite sayings in swimming and Megan would always say, she loved the movie finding nemo, was just keep swimming, and I think that is so applicable in general, just keep swimming, just keep going, just keep persevering.”

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