Ellie Stump - Pennsylvania Interview by Zoe D’Angelo Nomination and Photography by Tricia Stump Featured in Issue 16 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The nomination: Ellie stump never gave up. She had become very ill and was hospitalized and had to learn how to walk and talk again. She is now very active in cheer at Dallastown High school.
What was your illness that put you in the hospital? Guillain-Barre Syndrome a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nervous system.
Tell us about the events you went through leading up to your hospitalization. I had a severe stomach bug. A week later I started having severe headaches. My parents took me to the ER where I had a cat scan. They sent me home, and a few days later I ended up at the Pediatrician because I still had bad headaches, my speech started to slur, my feet felt heavy and my muscles were very sore. That doctor sent me to a neurologist, and she thought I had GBS. She sent me to Hershey Hospital. While there I went through many tests, which included a spinal tap and an MRI. I couldn't swallow, so I was given a feeding tube.
What were your biggest obstacles during these hard times and how did you stay so determined? While paralyzed, and not able to walk, talk or eat, I spent seven days in Hershey PICU and was then transferred to Hershey Pediatric Rehab. I went through many hours of therapy, learning to walk, talk and eat. It was scary and frustrating. What kept me motivated was to be able to eat real food again, go back to school to see my friends, go home to see my dog, and play volleyball again.
If there was one thing you would want people to know about you, what would it be? Before my illness I was shy and didn't really try new things. When I finally came home and was released from therapy, I decided to try out for our school cheer leading team. I wasn't sure I'd make it, but I did. I also went back to my club volleyball team and became part of student council.
What advice would you give to someone who may be where you were? I'd say stay positive, have faith, and never give up. Believe that you are strong enough and stay focused on your future goals. Rely on your support system. For me that was my parents and my older sister Lydia. She was in middle school when this happened, but she came to see me almost every night after school. She was so encouraging and thoughtful. Every girl should have a big sister like her.
Ellie was featured in Issue 16 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!
Joseph Stokes – 19 - Georgia Interview by Zoe D'Angelo Nomination by Makenley Slade Photography by Dawn Owens & Maribeth Slade Issue 19 Inspiring Teens Magazine - Survive & Thrive
The Nomination: Joseph was involved in a critical car incident his Junior year of high school leaving him paralyzed from the waist down for three months. Joseph was admitted to the Shepherds Institute in Atlanta, Georgia after being told a couple days before by a surgeon he’d never be able to walk again. Within three months Joseph overcame this obstacle and walked out of Shepherds later that February.
With his wreck being in November and the injury, he was forced to quit playing his most loved sport of football and also baseball in the following season. But throughout Joseph’s recovery he never once had the idea of to give up and was bound and determined to walk again and prove wrong the ones who doubted him.
He now is a Sophomore at GMC in Valdosta Ga and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and continues to this day to overcome his obstacle and stay active with the Shepherds Center.
Image by Maribeth Slade
Tell me about your accident during your junior year of high school.
November 2, 2015 started out as any other normal day for me. I got ready for weight training and left home around 7:25 AM. It had been raining and I ran off the road, over corrected and flipped my truck. I was thrown from the truck since I did not have on my seat belt. God made that bad decision good because had I had on my seat belt and not been thrown out, I would have been crushed. When I came to, I had no feeling or movement below my waist. A CT scan and MRI revealed a spinal cord injury at the T12 level. I was rushed into surgery and 2 rods and 8 screws were used to fuse my spine. After the surgery my surgeon told my family that he did not know if I would ever walk again. The next morning a different doctor told my parents that I would never.
What was the recovery process like from the accident? All my life there has always been one thing that I loved to do. Play sports. Especially football. I started playing when I was 4. By high school I was the wide receiver on the football team and a left fielder on the baseball team. I loved to run. My dream was to one day play college football. That dream was gone. Thank God my family found a way to get me into The Shepherds Center in Atlanta, Ga. It was there that the feeling and movement slowly came back, and I slowly learned how to walk again. To begin with I had to learn how to live life in a wheelchair though.
Are you able to play sports now?
No I am not. And that is something that I still struggle with. I still have a noticeable limp and I tire easy. My senior year of high school I was still considered to be part of the baseball and football teams and I went to all the games with my jersey on. It was very hard to be on the outside looking in. But while I was at Shepherds, I realized how lucky I am. I have been called a walking miracle and I have no intentions of letting that go to waste. One day I want to help others. I helped coach my fraternity’s basketball team last year and I also helped coach a miracle league baseball team. It is for kids with special needs.
Image by Maribeth Slade
How do you stay active in the Shepherds Center?
I was a patient at Shepherds for nearly 3 months. I made lifelong friendships there. I have been back several times to visit with my therapists, doctors, and other patients. I participated in the Project Walkway fashion show that raises money for the Shepherds adolescent team. I also participated in an adventure skills workshop for adaptive sports. My goal is to give them hope. While I was there my slogan was "Clear your Mind of Can't" and I try to pass that along.
Image by Maribeth Slade
Why did you pick the fraternity Sigma Chi? What do you love most about it?
The diversity and it felt like home. As John Wayne said "Men join fraternities, Leaders of Men join Sigma Chi".
Joseph will be featured in Issue 19 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!