STREETERVILLE — On the one-year mark since construction began to build a new Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at 630 N. McClurg Ct., some of the rehab center's littlest patients showed their thanks to the construction crew making it happen.
RIC pediatric patients Bella Rodrigues, 7, and Makary Sekulich, 5, said they wanted to thank the 200-worker Power Construction crew building the new rehab center, and led other young patients in gathering homemade lemonade recipes and decorating signs with the help of hospital staff.
"They've been watching [the new facility] go up floor by floor, and they said they wanted to wish [the workers] a happy Fourth of July," said Ann Groothuis, a spokeswoman for RIC.
"They said they wanted to thank the construction workers who are helping build a new hospital to help kids like them," she said.
At lunchtime Tuesday, about 15 kids handed out free lemonade from a stand on the south side of Erie Street just west of McClurg Court.
Groothuis said Rodrigues and Sekulich spent the last week rallying their friends on the pediatric floor in the current RIC building at 345 E. Superior St.
For Rodrigues, who is being discharged Wednesday, the lemonade stand marks the end of her month-long stay to acclimate to the new prosthetic left leg RIC designed for her that will allow her to continue her passion for swimming.
Sekulich is currently in a four- to six-week rehabilitation program after recovering from Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery at RIC, which treats spasticity associated with Cerebral Palsy.
After Tuesday's event, "one construction worker requested a photo with the kids and told them this was ‘the nicest thing someone has ever done for him on job site,’" said Lauren Spehr, a certified child life specialist at RIC. "We had the best time and we were so glad we could remind the workers how thankful we are for them.
The crew was "super appreciative, they think it's adorable too. The kids have been making signs all week," Groothuis said.
Construction began July 1, 2013 to build a new 420-foot-tall research hospital that will house 242 rehabilitation patients and create 691 parking spaces for medical staff.
The three-year construction project is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2016 and the new Ability Institute will open in early 2017.