Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013
NORTH AUGUSTA, SC (WRDW) -- Elisabeth Harkins, our Time To Care award winner for October, is a middle school student with a big heart for helping others.
Her efforts locally and even internationally have already caught the attention of South Carolina's governor
You can tell a lot about a 14-year-old girl by looking at her pictures.
This one loves taking dance. She's really into Girl Scouts and astronomy. Anything to do with the planets, space and telescopes.
But there's another picture that will tell you even more about Elisabeth Harkins. It's an X-ray of her spine. It has the signature S-shaped curve that comes with Scoliosis.
That's why she wears the brace. Elisabeth's Nana, Lisa Sistare-Harkins, remembers the day they brought it home two years ago.
"I came home and went to the bedroom and cried," Lisa remembers. "She came home and as soon as she found out she can still do soccer and dance, she came home and ate a bowl of ice cream and watched TV. It was no big deal."
But middle school can be a cruel place.
"She was only self conscious one day," Lisa said. "The first day she wore it to school."
After that, Elisabeth decided her S-shaped spine and the brace that she wears all day every day, is just part of who she is.
"Well, 23 hours a day. I only get an hour break 7 days a week," Elisabeth said.
But instead of feeling sorry for herself, Elisabeth got busy reaching out to others with Scoliosis. The newspaper clippings spread out in her family room tell the story of one busy girl. She even decided to write South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
"She declared that June would be Scoliosis Month- like the whole entire month dedicated for scoliosis," Elisabeth remembers with a smile.
The middle-schooler didn't stop there. She became chapter president of Curvy Girls. She says groups like that make it better- knowing she's not alone.
"Much better. In fact, I'm the leader of the South Carolina/South Georgia chapter."
She also joined young Friends of FOCUS, a group that sends surgeons to Gana in West Africa to help other children with spinal deformities. Elisabeth even went on Facebook to collect donations for kids she will never know.
"We had several boxes- like 9 boxes," Elisabeth said.
(News 12) "And they filled up?"
"All of them."
(News 12) "How did you feel about that?"
"Awesome," she said with a smile.
By now, you're getting the bigger picture about Elisabeth Harkins. In many ways, just another active middle school girl who loves playing sax in her school band. A young lady who even knows sign language, even though it made her giggle trying to explain to News 12 that the sign she was signing, was the sign for "sign language".
This is a teenager who already knows something that takes most of us years to figure out. Helping others really is what it's all about. She wants other kids like her to remember this.
"That they're not alone. And this is not something to be afraid of. And it just makes you awesom-er," Elisabeth says with a confident smile.
Oh, and her brace is working. Her curves have decreased.
And Elisabeth may not be wearing the brace in a year from now.
As for her future? It's wide open. She told News 12 she wants to be a fashion designer or be paid to ride roller coasters.
News 12 also wants to thank to our Time To Care partners for making all this possible. Academy Sports and Outdoors Ashley Furniture Home Store and Subway.