What do you want to be when you grow up?
A nurse, a teacher or work with animals. Maybe all three. But that’s just today you know.
What’s your favorite food?
I like Chinese food.
What’s your weird talent?
It’s not really a talent, but I write letters to friends. A lot.
Who inspires you and why?
My mom’s friend Theresa. We call her Tree Bird. When I was sick, she was in Indiana and she came to Chicago every weekend to help my mom and me. She’s always willing to help others. She always makes me smile.
"She’s tough. Very strong willed, which sometimes drives us completely crazy but it has served us well," says mom Karen Kelly. "What she wants, she wants. Like walking."
Shannon, who currently maneuvers her way through the day via wheelchair, has decided she will walk a mile by her birthday June 30. In spite of a recent setback—Shannon slipped on a puddle of water left on the ground from snowy boots and broke her hip—Shannon is undeterred from her desire to walk for her birthday.
This isn’t the first time the Elmhurst teen has faced challenges head-on. She was a normal 2-year-old when she began limping. Within a week, she couldn’t walk. Diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her spinal cord, Shannon underwent several surgeries, chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. While the cancer is gone, the damage from the tumor left Shannon partially paralyzed. She began physical therapy, mainly at Easter Seals, to regain her ability to walk.
Recently Shannon was appointed the Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region 2008 Youth Ambassador. She told her story to a large crowd at a black-tie gala. Her only public speaking prior to the gala was in front of her eighth-grade class of about 25 kids. "This was about 500. That’s a big jump. Not a leap, a jump," Shannon emphasizes.
Shannon’s life is filled with challenges—ones that often require leaps of faith and sheer grit, but that doesn’t stop her. Walking by her birthday is just her current goal. "That’s my major one right now, that’s what I’m mainly focused on," she says. "I’ll set more after I succeed."
Do you know a great kid age 14 and under who’s done something amazing? E-mail names and information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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