18 year old Alicia Hruby was whisked off to her prom this year in true fangirl style… inside an exact replica of Supernatural’s infamous Impala, ‘Baby’! The vehicle, named ‘Thor’ by owners Kim and Jimmy LeMay, brought joy into the life of a girl that has had much more than her fair share of life’s struggles. While most young girls dream about having the perfect prom night, Alicia is elated to attend at all. Hair, nails, make-up and a pretty dress are only a small part of what makes this young lady so beautiful. I am honored, through my ever expanding comic con connections, to have heard her inspiring story. I am even more blessed to be able to share it here on Fan Fest News.
While attending a small comic convention a few weeks ago I met a most amazing and giving couple, Kim and Jimmy LeMay. The LeMays run a small company called Experience Entertainment LLC that brings interactive fandom fun to comic conventions. While watching fans admire and take photos with one of their main attractions, Thor, I struck up a conversation with Mr. LeMay. He filled me in on all the intricate details of the swanky vehicle and even pointed out Supernatural cast signatures on it’s interior. It seems no one is immune to Thor’s charm as I then flipped through an album containing photos of various celebrities striking a pose with the iconic Impala!
Mr. LeMay and I agreed though that the very best part of a comic convention was seeing the excitement on a fan’s face as they get up close and personal to their fandom icons. To be able to provide a moment of happiness in person’s life is a true gift indeed. It was then that Jimmy told me Alicia Hruby’s story of strength and survival. The LeMay’s were thrilled to take part in helping to make a wish come true.
In May of 2012, Alicia was diagnosed with three liver diseases… primary sclerosing cholangitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Her diagnosis at the time was considered so rare that there were only thirty other documented cases like hers. The complications were endless. The transplant team at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh evaluated her and she was placed on the transplant list in October 2013. In May of 2014, her liver deteriorated to the point of her developing hepatocellular carcinoma, a primary liver cancer. On March 4, 2015, it was determined that Alicia was becoming too ill and plans were being made to send her home so she could be with her family and a nursing staff to administer palliative care. It is unimaginable to me how family and friends attempted to cope with the idea of losing an angel like Alicia.
Thankfully, a miracle happened. Two days later, the transplant surgeon walked in her hospital room and asked “Who wants a liver transplant?” Within a half hour she was in the operating room receiving her life-saving transplant. The road to recovery was tough, but Alicia proved tougher. Unfortunately, even after the transplant, some of Alicia’s medical issues did not return to normal as expected. When more testing was done, it was discovered that, in addition to the peripheral neuropathy that took away the feeling in her feet, parts of her legs, both hands, parts of her arms, and parts of her back, she was also having problems with every function in her central nervous system. While Alicia had received a life saving gift, she had also received another curveball. It was determined that Alicia has a rare form of autonomic neuropathy that has left her permanently disabled. What does this mean for Alicia? It means there are no guarantees and that you must have hope, faith, and positivity… continue to move forward and embrace all that life has to offer.
Most days, before her transplant took place, Alicia was too ill to leave her bedroom. Her friends would come over to watch episodes her favorite television series, Supernatural. She considers herself a ‘Supernatural Nerd’ and well-versed on all the characters in the series. So, when the word got out regarding Alicia’s latest diagnosis, some friends of the family went in search of one her bucket list wishes… to ride in a car like the one from her favorite show. With prom approaching, the hunt was on! Enter Jimmy and Kim LeMay.
When the LeMays heard Alicia’s story, they were on board without hesitation! A plan was set into motion that brought everyone together in a little town outside of Pittsburgh to celebrate Alicia’s ability in battling some very tough odds. This girl was not even suppose to see her 17th birthday and here she now was; 18 years old, graduating from high school and attending her senior prom. Thor and entourage met Alicia, her date Nick Steinbrecher, and various friends and family for some beautiful photos before the big night. The two were then escorted to Ringgold High School for the Grand March and then driven to the picturesque Bella Sera restaurant in Canonsburg where they continued their Supernatural adventure.
Along the way Alicia was kind enough to participate in an interview recorded and given by Kim LeMay. I encourage you to watch Alicia’s Prom Ride Video; hear her describe her life, her struggles, her passions, her future, her love of Supernatural and why she is a TRUE Winchester! All in her own words…
I am a firm believer that certain people enter into my life for a reason. I was not even suppose to be at the comic convention where I met the LeMays, and now cannot imagine not having been there. It is with gratitude that I share this story of inspiration, strength, kindness, community, giving, and positivity in the face of unending adversity. Alicia still has a rough road ahead of her and I know she will face it head on. As she says in true Supernatural fashion “Always keep fighting!”
For anyone wanting to help, Alicia started a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to honor the transplant surgeons that saved her life. A worthwhile cause indeed! To learn more about Alicia and the organizations she supports, follow her on Facebook @AngelsForAliciaHruby.
Special thanks to the LeMays for taking lots of pictures and recording the interview, thank you to Alicia’s mom for filling in details, and most of all… thank you Alicia for allowing me to tell this story.