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Photo by Josh Towner

BY JOSH TOWNER

Twenty-one daycare and in-house patients from St. Mary’s Hospital for Children took a field trip to Manhattan on Sept. 21 for the dress rehearsal of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “La Boheme.”

Patients arrived at the venue in five vans that had picked them up from their homes across New York. Staff members from St. Mary’s, the Met Opera and the van service gathered to help unload the wheelchairs and patients.

Some of the children and young adults wore their Sunday best and were greeted with “oohs” and “ahs” from onlookers. “It’s a fancy day today,” said a St. Mary’s employee.

“The kids don’t get to do this independently because of financial and physical difficulties, so today is very exciting,” said Allison McGeough, director of the Medical Day Healthcare program at St. Mary’s.

Some of the kids and young adults were nervous, but the general mood was full of excitement. As the group entered the Met Opera, several stopped and gazed in wonder at the velvet carpets and sweeping staircases. “This place is humongous,” said one patient.

St. Mary’s has a strong music therapy program, making a trip to the opera extra special for the group. “Even if they don’t get the opera they will really enjoy it,” said McGeough.

The group waited patiently outside the doors of the theater. They giggled as a group photo was taken by a large painting. Once the doors opened, ushers escorted the patients to their seats.

Jovani, a 22-year-old patient, was ecstatic about the field trip. “It’s a lot of fun, the whole day. We get to see something new,” Jovani said.

Cindy Johnson, co-chair of St. Mary’s board of directors used connections at the Met Opera to arrange the event.

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