When 12-year-old Summer heard about the Miss Amazing contest in 2014, she knew she had to participate.
Miss Amazing is a movement for girls with special needs that “celebrates abilities and acknowledges the beauty and value within all people.” Each year, participants from 32 states come to Chicagoland to showcase their talents and make new friends.
Summer was born with congenital myasthenic syndrome, a rare type of muscular dystrophy that causes low muscle tone. She also has scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, and began receiving treatment at the Chicago Shriners Hospital when she was just a toddler. Under the care of spine surgeon and specialist Dr. Kim Hammerberg, she is feeling great and enjoys softball, adapted soccer and theater, where she starred in a local production of “Aladdin” and “Mulan.”
Summer was crowned princess in the 2016 Miss Amazing contest and named queen this year. There was a time in Summer’s past, however, that made it difficult for her to know just how amazing she truly is.
At school, Summer was bullied and threatened by a boy because she does things differently. Instead of backing down, she went to an adult at school, as well as her parents, and decided it was best to write an incident report. She was hoping that would be the end of it, but it wasn’t. Ultimately, after another incident and Summer advocating for herself, the boy was prohibited from being near her and his classes were changed.
Shriners Hospitals for Children takes a strong stand against bullying and participates in a yearly campaign called #CutTheBull alongside actor RJ Mitte, best known for his role as Walt Junior in the TV series “Breaking Bad.” Shriners is committed to spreading the important message that bullying is not acceptable, and recognizes the strength and courage of patients like Summer who share their own experiences with bullying in order to help other children who might be going through something similar.
“It is not OK to bully and if you are being bullied, tell someone so that they can help you,” Summer says. “If you see someone that is being bullied, be kind to that person and let them know it is not their fault.”
Summer says she makes it a point to be kind to everyone because she knows what it felt like to be bullied. Over the years, her own self-esteem and confidence has grown because of it.
She plans to go to college and one day own her own grocery store where she will employ family, friends and those with disabilities. She also wants to use it to feed the homeless. “You can be someone’s hero if you just open your heart and your mind,” she says.
Shriners Hospitals for Children is a health care system of 22 locations dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.