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Way to Go: Elizabeth O'Grady

Elizabeth O'Grady, an East Setauket high school student,

Elizabeth O'Grady, an East Setauket high school student, has been recognized for giving back to Stony Brook University Hospital, where the staff worked to keep her alive when she was born prematurely. Credit: Handout

An East Setauket high school student has been recognized for giving back to Stony Brook University Hospital, where the staff worked to keep her alive when she was born prematurely.

The hospital named Elizabeth O'Grady its Junior Volunteer for 2013. Over the past two years, she has spent more than 200 hours with patients in the Child Life Department, engaging in activities such as painting and playing board games.

O'Grady, 18, a senior at Ward Melville High School, said she was inspired to volunteer at the hospital because of her and her family's experience there. She was born at 26 weeks' gestation, weighing only 2 pounds. She remained in the neonatal intensive-care unit for three months.

"I know what those parents go through, because mine went through the same thing," O'Grady said.

O'Grady, who is a member of her school's Key Club and National Honor Society, volunteers every Monday for four hours.

"Elizabeth has been described as a very mature and responsible high school student," said Kathy Kress, the hospital's assistant director of volunteer services. "She has also been known to stay after her shift to find a missing game or DVD."

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