ST. LOUIS — Madelyn Hubbs has never been afraid to share her story, or her smile, or her time.
You can often find her here supporting kids at Shriner's Hospital for Children.
"She's a bright shining light and a wonderful, caring yet hard-working young woman," said Tammy Robbins with Shriners.
She seems to be one of those people born to make a difference, so you quickly forget that she was born a little different.
Madelyn came into this world 10 weeks early and without her left arm. Her parents were both joyful and fearful.
"Lots of questions of what happened and why and where do we go from here," remembers Melissa Hubbs, Madelyn's mom.
But while Madelyn may have been missing an arm, from the beginning she had plenty of heart. The one word she never learned was can't.
Do you know the proverbial saying about getting back on the horse? Well, Madelyn did, literally, no matter how many times her parents saw her fall off.
"How do you find that balance?" asked Melissa. "Because inside as a parent, yes you want her to get back on the horse again but then the fear of what could happen."
But to this now 19-year-old, disability never meant inability. Which is why on a weekday afternoon, you might find her riding her bike in Forest Park, or playing the ukulele with help from her feet.
"I think that the biggest misconception around those who have disabilities is that we can't do things in our community," Madelyn said. "And that we have less of a drive to go out there. In my own opinion, I have more of a drive to try and be better if not the best at anything that I do."
In other words, never give up and always give back.
Every Christmas, instead of getting presents, she and her brother give them to the kids at Shriner's, 300 gifts just last year.
But multiply that by 10.
Because this all started in 2008 when Madelyn was just 8. It was her big thank you to the hospital that took care of her when she was little.
"They're here to welcome you with open arms, it's not a typical hospital," she said. "Everyone's really nice here and it's like a second family."
As Madelyn starts her sophomore year at Maryville University, she is also starting a new journey. She was recently named the National Patient Ambassador for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
"She's going to travel the nation and potentially the world speaking to Shriners and talking about how Shriners hospital changed her life," explains Robbins.
So if you're keeping track:
- Becoming National Goodwill Ambassador, check.
- Learning the Ukulele, check.
- Planning the annual Christmas project. check.
Oh yeah, and there's her sophomore year in school.
"I want to become an occupational therapist and help other kids who are just like me," she said.
Madelyn Hubbs. A young woman who wasn't put on this earth to be ordinary.
Madelyn is determined to help stop bullies. For more info, click here.