Riley Kate actually had three nominations, she's very well loved!
"Riley Kate is a beautiful princess that throughout her battle with scoliosis (brace after brace, sleepless nights, and relentless discomfort) all of her life. She is brilliant and courteous and a brave warrior whom I respect more than most adults. This summer, she finally had surgery to repair her spine as it applied pressure to her lungs and affected her growth. Even as she recovers, her grace is testimony to her bravery. Please consider her for your award- the boost to her esteem and acknowledgement of courage would be an amazing tribute to this most special girl."
"My name is Leigha and Riley Kate is my niece. She is 11 years old. She has been struggling with severe scoliosis for years. She has had a lot of pain, therapy and new back braces about every 6 months. Her had to be molded to her by them taking casts of her body to get the right fit. She went through wearing them and struggling to get better and the scoliosis continued to worsen. In July her parents had to make the decision for a very long, scary back surgery for their baby girl. Riley is very tiny and petite. The surgery took almost 6 hours. They had to cut through 3 of her ribs to correct the curvature and as countless hardware to her spine. She has been such an amazing brave, tolerant and strong girl through it all. The incision ended up being from the base of her beck almost all the way to her hips. She has been a true inspiration and super hero through it all. Now that she is recovering, she cannot do any physical activity for 6 months. School starts back on Wednesday and she will have to begin going 1/3 of the day, working up to 1/2 days and then to full days. She is starting middle school this year. While she is strong and amazing, she is very self conscious about her scar and her limitations especially going to middle school for the first time with a whole new social element involved not including the higher pressure, more difficult tasks, classes, etc. She is also so worried about starting a new school in 6th grade with limited physical capabilities that she is used to doing on a regular basis. There will be no trapeze, fencing, running on the playground, swinging or anything else for at least 6 months. I truly believe that this photo session would empower her to finish the fight by displaying who she truly is as an incredible, smart, strong girl who just happens to have a long scar and hardware in her spine that will limit her ability to socialize and fit in by doing the physical activities like her peers. It will help her continue to heal, be proud of her accomplishments and her physical traits that challenge her to strive to get through something that is very difficult for someone so young and moving into her preteen years. Therefore, I nominate my super hero, Riley Kate!!!! Thank you for doing what you do for these amazing girls and how you help them shine in their own light!!!"
"Riley Kate has been a student of mine for several years. I'm a learning coach and I work with kids with learning differences, social thinking differences, and kids who just need someone to cheer them on in life. Riley Kate came to me and helped me work with my golden retriever to get him ready to be tested to become a therapy dog. She has a huge heart for animals and it was a way for us to bond and connect. With the help of Riley Kate, my golden retriever, Harley passed the test and is an official therapy dog. He works with me with all of my students and we also volunteer at Athens Regional Medical Center and at Downtown Academy.
Riley Kate just recently went through a very serious back surgery to help straighten her spine. She has suffered with pain in her back due to scoliosis for several years. She had to sleep in a very uncomfortable back brace and was limited to activities she could do. She is a very selfless young lady and has a heart of gold. She was brave and agreed to have back surgery to help her with her pain. This photo session will help her feel beautiful even with a very large scar that she will have the rest of her life."
Heather says: I have actually known Riley Kate for years and I'be photographed her and her sister twice before. I knew she has scoliosis, but I've never known how much it hurt her or all the braces she had to go through. When I asked her if she wanted a picture of her scar, she said "Absolutely, yes." She chose to include her younger sister.
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