Ventura County Hospital Staff Helps Valedictorian Attend His High School Graduation – NBC Los Angeles
High school graduation time is a rite of passage.
But one Ventura County teenager, and valedictorian of his class, was not able to attend because he is in the hospital. That was until hospital staff stepped in to make it happen.
“It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly,” said Mike Sugimoto, the teen’s father.
Newbury Park teenager Jack Sugimoto was an active high school senior at Beacon Hill academy.
“Varsity volleyball on a Thursday, prom on Friday and then Saturday he had the intestinal abdominal pain,” said Carolyn Sugimoto, the teen’s mother.
It wasn’t food poisoning or appendicitis.
“He’s not one to complain. He’s pretty tolerant with pain and so we knew something was up,” his father said.
Jack’s colon had ruptured.
“It almost felt like knives in my stomach. It was a lot worse than I have ever felt before,” Jack said.
Three emergency surgeries and two months later, Jack is still recovering at Los Robles hospital in Thousand Oaks.
The threat of infection kept him in treatment and unfortunately that meant Jack, valedictorian of his class, would miss giving a speech at his graduation.
“My spirits were pretty low because I couldn’t make it to graduation and I thought that was a really important part of life,” Jack said.
He tried staying busy, playing his violin. Even giving an impromptu concert for hospital staff.
“It was really disappointing because we didn’t imagine that he would be in the hospital for this long,” his mother said.
But his parents had an idea to make it possible for Jack to attend graduation.
“It was something I wasn’t keeping my hopes up for but it’s something that was a huge blessing,” Jack said.
Thanks to the cooperation of hospital staff, the surgeons, nurses and management, Jack donned his cap and gown and was met with several rounds of applause, balloons and well wishes.
He stopped for photos before a medical transport took Jack to his graduation to be with his friends.
Jack is now back at the hospital on the road to recovery.
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