DETROIT — When Taylor Swift takes the stage at Detroit’s Ford Field Tuesday night, tens of thousands of fans will likely be singing along to every word.
For one 15-year-old fan who’s attending the show with the help of a nurse from Quebec, that would have been impossible just a few months ago.
Tiffany Kleinschmidt of Waterford, Mich., is a lifelong “Swiftie,” as the pop star’s legions of fans are known. Before she suffered a traumatic brain injury in April, Kleinschmidt could easily sing along to hits like “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space.”
But since that day when she went into cardiac arrest during class, depriving her brain of oxygenated blood, Kleinschmidt has had to relearn basic skills like how to walk, talk and eat. It’s been a painstaking ordeal, but Swift’s music has been a major boost throughout her recovery so far.
So when Quebec-based nurse Laken Tiller donated two tickets to Swift’s Tuesday concert to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, it didn’t take long for officials there to decide who would get them.
Tiller grew up in Windsor, Ont., just across the river from Detroit, but now lives in Granby, Que. She bought two tickets to the Detroit concert during a presale period about a year ago, but later found out her work schedule conflicted with the show. Thankfully, she had backup plans.
“I went to her Chicago show and her New York show,” the 26-year-old Tiller — another confessed “Swiftie” — said in a phone interview from Windsor on Saturday.
“I’m a big fan.”
Tiller could have put her tickets up for sale on the secondary market, but she said it was an “obvious choice” to donate them to the children’s hospital instead.
“I see tonnes of families who are consumed with their health. When they’re sick and they’re in the hospital, your life is completely turned around. So I wanted a child who’s been in the hospital for a while to be able to relax and take a night off and forget about what’s going on,” she said.
Since that initial donation, which will allow Tiffany and her recreational therapist to attend the show, Tiller has bought and donated an extra pair of tickets so that Tiffany’s mother and sister can go, too.
“That donation that Laken made means a lot to us,” said Dawn Kleinschmidt, who added her daughter “lit up” when she learned she would get to see her idol in person.
Even that basic expression of joy points to the progress Tiffany has made since her injury, which dramatically altered not only her physical and language abilities, but also the way she shows her emotions, according to her recreational therapist.
Dawn Grenier said Tiffany is “beyond thrilled” about the show, and while she can’t jump up and down to show her excitement, “She’s got the best smile. Her smile is what shows us.”
Tiller and Grenier have also been co-ordinating on a plan to get Tiffany to meet Swift face-to-face, even holding a T-shirt decorating contest at the hospital in an effort to make the teen and her family stand out in the crowd.
“I guess Taylor’s mom and her people wander the crowd before the show and during the opening act and look for true Swiftie fans to invite backstage,” said Grenier, who credits Tiller for leading a social media push to make the meeting happen.
“Just going to the concert is a dream for Tiffany…. The topper, obviously, would be if she could meet Taylor.”
— By Adam Burns in Toronto
The Canadian Press