Growing up, Rachel Baker dreamed of someday playing college softball.
But she never dreamed that Madison Hospital and general surgeon Douglas Downey, MD, of Valley Surgical Associates would help get her there.
Rachel, a 17-year-old high school softball star from Madison, verbally committed more than a year ago to play at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. She planned to make it official by signing her scholarship offer during a ceremony at her school, Madison Academy.
Then life intervened. Rachel’s father, Rich Baker, needed surgery and was admitted to Madison Hospital on Nov. 12 – two days before National Signing Day. With her dad stuck in the hospital, Rachel decided to scrap the school ceremony and instead sign her scholarship papers quietly in his room.
But Dr. Downey, who is Rich Baker’s surgeon, felt Rachel deserved more fanfare than that. So he asked Madison Hospital President Mary Lynne Wright to help throw an impromptu signing ceremony for Rachel.
Mary Lynne reserved the hospital board room and let Rachel’s mom, Melanie Baker, decorate it in Mercer orange and black. Dr. Downey bought a softball cake. Rich Baker changed out of his hospital gown and put on a Mercer golf shirt. And as Rachel lifted a pen to sign her scholarship and realize her dream, the most important people in her life – her parents, aunt and uncle, high school coach and teammates – were there to see it.
“That Dr. Downey and the hospital would go to this much trouble means so much to us,” said Rich Baker.