( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Florida Teens Foundation Helps People With Rare Skin Disease
ENSPIRE Contributor: Bella Rothman
Taylor Brown was diagnosed with Scleroderma in 2014. Since she was two, her mother recalls Taylor’s symptoms, but it wasn’t until almost 10 years later that the rare auto-immune disease was diagnosed. Taylor faced bullying and adversity from the scars her Scleroderma left on her skin. Being subjected to the disease and the cruelty of others made her and her mother determined to bring further awareness to this disease. With that, the Taylor’s Journey Foundation was created.
Taylor explains how the bully weighed heavily on her at school. She recalls wearing bows to cover the scars on her skin and long talks with her mother, who had to remind her of her beauty. “It was very difficult because I really didn’t understand what was going on with my body. To be made fun of and to ridicule me in the process made it even more difficult to handle.” Taylor said.
After coming to terms with her disease, her mother encouraged her to be an advocate for others. The two created Taylor’s Journey Foundation to empower others and have stayed on track with that mission ever since. Taylor explains their mindset for the foundation is “to educate, motivate, build youth; encourage them to be the best you.”
Taylor and her mother have held multiple successful events to raise awareness for Scleroderma and inspire youth struggling with conditions. Combining advocacy and basketball, two of her passions, Taylor created “Shoot for a Cure.” This program teaches youth the basics of basketball and self-care through professional trainers, motivational speakers, and leaders such as Taylor. She explains that living with Scleroderma has made her aptitude for activities difficult but not nearly impossible. “I have learned that you can tailor your passion for fitting your abilities,” Taylor says. “There may come a time when I can no longer physically play basketball, but that does not have to dim my light. The alternative could be coaching or training.”
This year, Taylor has continued her journey to teach and motivate by holding a free CPR/ First Aid class for teens and awarding the P. R. E. S.S. scholarship. P.R. E.S.S. stands for perseverance, resilience, the ability to endure, the ability to maintain strength, and strive for success- qualities Taylor does not fall short on. “Not only have I had to P.R.E.S.S with this condition, in life, every day, but we must also choose to do the same,” Taylor shares.
Taylor and her mother raise funds for research and awareness about the importance of self-love and care. While Scleroderma has brought Taylor many hardships, it has also made her an important advocate for youth struggling with conditions. “Overall, our mission is to find a cure,” Taylor says. “We empower children, families, and the community on the importance of maintaining physical and emotional health, self-development (character), and leadership through advocacy, education, and training.”
For more information on the “Taylor’s Journey Foundation”, you can visit the website HERE.