MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — The last place you think of when it comes to fun and games is a hospital.
Unless it's Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge hospital on the days that Kiland Sampa is working.
Kiland has been volunteering at Ranken for three years.
"Just being with the kids every day putting a smile on their face is an amazing feeling," he said.
You don't find too many 20-year-olds who would work so often for no pay. But Kiland will tell you he's here to pay it forward.
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Just a few years ago, Kiland was a star tennis player at Parkway North High School with big dreams for the future.
"Oh, absolutely. I was thinking scholarships and everything," he said.
Then one night after a match, he went for a swim in the hotel pool.
"When I dove in, I instantly hit my head and I was instantly paralyzed," he painfully recalled.
After a friend pulled him out, he was rushed to the hospital.
"I was constantly thinking please God, please God, please God, don't let me die," Kiland said.
Weeks later, the change to Ranken helped change his outlook.
"Just by making me feel like I was at home," he said.
The goal at Ranken is to transition kids from hospital to home, but it takes intense therapy and self-discipline.
"Oh, it was brutal. It was not easy," Kiland said with a laugh.
But he got better and eventually got to leave. And then, he came back.
"I wanted to make an impact on the kids' lives. The same way Ranken made an impact on my life," he said.
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So now, at least once a week he spends time with patients like 10-year-old Cole Gilliam, who was in an awful bike accident.
"Traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, fluid on his spinal cord," explained Patrease Gillam, Cole's mom.
Cole sees a lot of doctors and nurses, but Kiland is especially helpful when he's there. Because he's been there.
"He's there whenever I need him and he's always hanging out with me. We're just really good friends," Cole said.
Kiland is now on a new career path. He hopes to become a recreational therapist and work at Ranken.
And you should also know, he's not done playing tennis. When he couldn't grip his racket, a Ranken therapist found a way.
"So he grabs some tape and literally tapes my hand to the racket," Kiland explained. "And ever since then, I have been playing tennis every Saturday."
When plans don't work out, change the plan.
"My son looks up to him and wants to be like him," Cole's mom said.
Kiland Sampa: A young man who suffered a set back, made a comeback and decided to give back.