Whitney Ball - Maine Nomination by Torie Lavoie Photography by StewartSmithPhotography.com Issue 58 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Whitney has been an inspiring young girl as long as I can remember. She has had heavy life challenges, including her daddy’s death at a young age and her brother's brave battle with cancer, yet always remained positive and someone to look up to. Since her brother's remission she has focused on raising money for patients going through cancer. Watching her turn negatives into positives is something I continually look forward to. Now, as Whitney is entering her sophomore year in high school she is also competing for Teen Maine and hoping to continue to inspire young girls to be empowered.
Photography by StewartSmithPhotography.com
What would you most like to talk about in your interview? How I love to support community oncology and making a difference in patients’ lives. Also, my journey to USOA Teen Maine!
Tell us about your support for community oncology. How did you get started with this and what are you doing now? Cancer started affecting me in 2016 when my aunt lost her battle to breast cancer. Around this time was when I started getting involved. Over the years I have done a bottle drive for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, decorated bags in honor of patients for Relay for Life, put together many food baskets for patients and families every year, and more. Cancer struck yet again in 2018 when my brother was diagnosed with leukemia. The feeling after hearing your loved one is sick is something I never want anyone to go through, which is why I do everything I can to help.
Where do you hope to go with this? This is something I hope to continue with all my life. Cancer isn’t something that is just going to go away, so the least I can do is raise money, food, and support for patients and their families and hope it makes a difference in their life.
What leadership opportunities have you had in this endeavor? I am actually starting my own fundraisers soon. My community service project for the USOA Teen Maine Pageant is helping cancer patients with food insecurity. I will be collecting bottles again and collecting animal food for the patient’s pets as well. I am so excited to see how much of a difference my community can make under a fundraiser I’m running.
What have you learned about yourself in the process? I know that I love helping people more than anything.
What was your journey like to USOA Teen Maine? What made you decide to do it, what were your first steps? I am currently USOA Teen Gorham competing for USOA Teen Maine at the pageant in October, but so far it’s been really fun! I always thought pageants were so competitive, but this one is so different. All the contestants are really supportive of each other. You kind of forget it’s a competition, it’s really all about building friendships. I’ve never even thought about being in a pageant, I had a photo shoot with Stewart Smith just for fun, but I was scouted only a few days after and knew it would be an exciting opportunity!
What was the hardest part of the competition and what did you do to get past it? Like I said, I went into the shoot with Stew thinking nothing would come out of it, but I was asked to participate in the pageant by the executive director! So, the hardest part so far has been joining in so late. Some of these girls have been involved for many months and for me it’s been 3 weeks. I have to cram coaching, events, fees, deadlines, and shopping into a shorter time span, but it’s worth it!
Photography by StewartSmithPhotography.com
How did you find and why did you choose Stewart Smith Photography for your photographer? My mom came across his work from mutual friends online and wanted me to do it for fun and potentially begin a modeling career.
What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? It was such a good experience. I went in a little nervous of course because I had never done anything like that before. The nerves faded so quickly though. Stew is so welcoming and professional. He directs you throughout the whole thing, which I loved because I never know how to pose. You can really see his passion for what he does. We got this really good shot and he couldn’t even contain his excitement! The moment was just so happy. That was probably what I loved most.
Image by Torie Lavoie - my bottle drive for JAF in 2016
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? Especially for younger kids, my ability to keep high honor grades all throughout my middle school and high school years is inspiring and something to work for.
Why is achieving high honors important to you? Getting high honors is a reward to me after all my hard work. It makes the people around me proud, which makes me happy. Us teens can be really hard on ourselves, but reaching a goal like this is a reason to just stop and appreciate yourself.
Image by Torie Lavoie - food baskets in 2018
What are some tips you have for teens struggling to balance it all? This sounds obvious, but being organized! Make a schedule, make a to-do list of all your assignments you need to complete, take advantage of your study halls, and know when you’re going to be busy! Having set times to study or finish assignments is so much easier than rushing the night before they’re due. I promise when you get to check things off your to-do list it’s extremely relieving and rewarding!
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? I would inform people on food insecurity and the need that some patients have when battling cancer. Cancer hits close to home in our family, so I love to spread awareness, speak out, and help the community. Look for Whitney in issue 58 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!