Missouri teen shares special connection with Carl Edwards
COLUMBIA - Dance is a popular activity for kids to participate in while growing up. It's one that can help teach children about balance and fitness. In the case of 13-year-old Yszabehl Stuaffer, it also served as an outlet for the Children's Miracle Network Hospital patient.
Yszabehl was born with a cleft lip, which is an opening in the upper lip due to the tissue that forms a lip not joining completely before birth. At the age of five, she was diagnosed with Van Der Woude syndrome. As a result, Yszabehl has had a total of eight different facial reconstruction surgeries and orthodontic work since she was born to help repair her mouth, nose and palate.
"It's been challenging," Yszabehl said. "People always sometimes make fun of you for looking different or being different so that was always hard to cope with Going through stuff like that, it gives you more appreciation, it humbles you a little bit more."
Yszabehl began her journey with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals at Freeman Health System in Joplin, but has since moved her appointments to Columbia where her specialist is located. Earlier this year, Yszabehl was selected as the 2015 Champion Ambassador to represent Children's Miracle Network Hospitals for the entire state of Missouri.
In addition to that honor, Yszabehl's name was also featured on the "Racing for a Miracle" car driven by none-other than Columbia's Carl Edwards.
"It's super cool to get to be on a car," Yszabehl said.
Every year, STANLEY and the ACE Hardware Foundation give one NASCAR Sprint Cup driver the chance to win $1 million for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This year that driver was Carl Edwards, the newest racer sponsored by STANLEY. Although Edwards did not win the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11, the "Racing for a Miracle" program still made a difference.
"ACE Hardware Foundation, STANLEY, Children's Miracle Network all came together in Texas and they donated $100,000 to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to help young folks like Yszabehl," Edwards said. "They're so tough. We think this stuff is tough but it's nothing like what they are going through. It's an honor to represent STANLEY and for them to let me be a part of something like that."
"To go so far as to put all the kids' names on there, that made it really special the kids," Amee Stauffer, Yszabehl's mother said. "I think that just shows how much he really, really cares."
Since the "Racing for a Miracle" program started, the ACE Foundation and STANLEY have donated more than half a million dollar to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Those donations help provide financial assistance for families and patients just like Yszabehl.
"I think it's important for people to know that one in ten kids each year will visit a Children's Miracle Network Hospital. That's a lot of kids," Amee said. "They're not disease specific. It could be from a hearing aid, to a cleft lip to cancer, it doesn't matter."
Yszabehl said, "I think it's very important that we do this and talk to people about it because a lot of people don't know, it stays local and can help local kids in your area."
To find out which Children's Miracle Network Hospital is closest to you or to donate, click here.