Drag Queens Cheer Up Lonely Virginia Teen Waiting for Heart Transplant: 'It Was Like Talking to a Group of Friends'
"Confidence is something I have trouble with, and a big part of being a drag queen is just being confident in who you are," Kyla Robbins tells PEOPLE
It has been a lonely time for 18-year-old Kyla Robbins. The homeschooler from the tiny town of Floyd, Virginia, is waiting for a heart transplant and says her friends have found it tough to understand what she’s going through. So during her latest hospital visit, she and her mom came up with a plan to cheer her up.
“Drag queens are so fun and so happy and positive, so my mom helped me make a Facebook post to see if some of them would come visit me.”
Robbins, who is a big fan of the TV show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, made a poster asking any and all drag queens to come visit her at Duke University Hospital, where she hopes to receive a new heart.
Her mom posted the picture on March 14 and, within hours, it had been shared hundreds of times. In just a matter of days, it was shared several thousand times.
Justin Natvig, a 34-year-old who lives within 30 minutes of the North Carolina hospital, saw the post and knew he had to do something. Natvig, a drag queen who goes by the name Vivian Vaughn, is the reigning Miss Gay North Carolina – a pageant for drag queens.
“I care about people a lot, and when I saw this, I thought, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ I got more than 100 emails from performers who wanted to help. Most of what we do is in private, and this was an opportunity to show what kind of people we are.”
Natvig and four other drag queens made a special visit to Robbins – some driving more than three hours to visit the teen.
“Little did she know, when you ask for drag queens, you’re gonna get them!” Natvig tells PEOPLE. “We just sat there and talked to her for an hour and hopefully we brought her some cheer.”
“It was really great,” Robbins says. “It was like talking to a group of friends. It was just really good to talk to them and hang out with them.”
She says there were a lot of laughs, but something even more important came from the meeting.
“Confidence is something I have trouble with, and a big part of being a drag queen is just being confident in who you are. That’s what drag queens are all about, so being around them was fun, but it was also inspiring.”
Kyla is back home in Virginia now, waiting for a heart to become available. She regularly flips through pictures and laughs about what she calls the “happiest day I’ve ever had in a hospital.”
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The high school senior has also heard from several of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race – and even received a package from one of them.
And Natvig is trying to give her an even bigger gift. The drag queen started a GoFundMe page for his new friend to bring awareness to her journey.
“It’s been so incredible,” Robbins says. “Such incredible support and love from these people.”