Great Lakes Credit Union and Little Lake County are proud to bring you “Kirby’s Kids: Little Hands, Big Hearts.” This program recognizes an extraordinary child each month and brings you their stories of determination, hope and goodwill.
Sometimes we come across an obstacle and decide that this is where we are going to give up. This sort of thinking was never an option for a brave eleven-year-old girl named Lizzy. In fact, she shows us what it is like to overcome those obstacles and never give up.
When Lizzy was born, she was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Disorder. This disorder occurs when a certain type of white blood cell is found in above normal amounts in the digestive system and/or blood. Lizzy’s body could not process food, and any food that entered her body was not recognized as such, and seen as something bad. Her immune system would immediately go into overdrive trying to attack the foreign substance. This caused her to have difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite completely, dizziness, nausea, and anemia. Her nourishment came strictly from a prescription medical formula. This was quite the struggle, and as a young child, it was difficult to explain to her why she couldn’t eat like everyone else, or share in celebrations by eating birthday cake like her friends. Her family tried hard to focus more on the “fun” in a special occasion rather than on the food. Because her body could not absorb nutrients from food, she became easily malnourished and was diagnosed legally blind by age two. She also contracted Lyme Disease, in addition to her illness, which brought on even more challenges. She was forced to be stronger and more courageous than most children, at an extremely young age.
One might think that all of these hardships would cause a young girl to stop trying. Not Lizzy! She became even stronger and more determined in spite of these things. She never gave up and pressed on, more focused on doing what she loved than ever, including sports. She worked hard, and never let it bother her, even if she was the smallest on the team, or if her glasses went flying. She loves basketball, softball and soccer, and always does her absolute best out of love for the sports. She knows that it takes confidence and hard work to succeed, and she won’t let anything get in the way of that.
Adding to things that she has had to work hard to overcome, Lizzy struggles with dyslexia as well. She had to watch her friends enjoying books effortlessly, and knew that she wanted to do the same. Instead of giving up, she adapted to the cards she was dealt. She began getting books in larger print, using a tutor to help her recognize words, sounds and symbols, and working with a teacher who would recommend books based on her interests. Soon enough, Lizzy became an avid reader, crediting The Magic Treehouse series to help her go on all of the reading adventures of her dreams.
Not only does Lizzy work hard every day to do the things that most girls her age do easily, but from a very young age, Lizzy decided to give back to the community and charities that she felt strongly about. Lizzy volunteers at Bernie’s Book Bank by sorting books and packs household starter kits for Love Inc. of Lake County. She also spends time at Feed My Starving Children, and with the SRACLC (Special Recreation Association of Central Lake County). And she helps spread awareness for Lyme disease and works with the ILADS organization (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society).
Most importantly, she puts in time with CURED (Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease), an organization near and dear to her heart–and the one that actually ignited the spark that encouraged her to give so much of her time for others. Lizzy has spent a lot of her time selling t-shirts, and raising money and awareness for CURED. Even on days that she is not feeling well, her desire to help others stands strong. She loves to give back, and more importantly, loves how giving back makes her feel.
This little girl who loves to play with Lego and dreams of playing basketball for the University of Connecticut one day, still has aspirations to to help build houses for the homeless help when she gets older. Wherever she is, she knows she will always find ways to help others. She believes that in life you can always find a way to give your time, even from your bed. She can tell you exactly how it is done, and how she manages to put forth so much of her time for others:
“With hard work, confidence and perseverance–but you cannot give up, even when the tough…gets tougher!“
Lizzy will tell you that it doesn’t take money to do something for others. It just takes your heart, and once you start, you will see how contagious it is to give back. Others will want to join you, and you will want to keep doing as much as you can for others. She stresses that there are so many local organizations that could use everyone’s help.
If you would like to follow in Lizzy’s footsteps and give your time to an organization near and dear to her heart, please consider volunteering or donating at one of the charities that mean a lot to Lizzy. Check out the CURED and ILADS organization today. If you cannot donate or volunteer, Lizzy asks that you learn more about these illnesses, and help out by spreading awareness. Every little bit helps!
Each and every one of our Kirby’s Kids gets to meet Kirby the Kangaroo at their local Great Lakes Credit Union branch. Kirby met Lizzy at their local Crystal Lake branch and opened up a savings account in her name with a $50 starting balance, courtesy of Great Lakes Credit Union.
Do you know an inspirational, courageous or exceptional young person living in Lake County, (ages 13 and under) who is serving as a role model in his or her community? Help us recognize these big hearts! Nominate a child for the Kirby’s Kid program.
Follow this link to complete a nomination form. If your nominee is selected we will contact you and/or the child’s guardian for inclusion in the Kirby’s Kids program.
For more information about the Kirby’s Kids, read our program introduction.
Disclosure: Great Lakes Credit Union is the paid sponsor of the Kirby’s Kids program.