Lauderdale named Greene County’s Bright Futures Shining Star 2017
Jaden Lauderdale of Bloomfield has had a life, so far, of daily struggles. The 14 year old Lauderdale has faced every one with courage, optimism and determination seldom seen in one so young.
Born with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart, Lauderdale has had no fewer than four open heart surgeries, and a pacemaker was installed in the youngster.
She also suffers from PLE, or protein losing entropy, a liver disease that causes her to swell, and a stroke at age 10 caused major complications. For now, Lauderdale waits for a donor heart to be found, as hers is failing. The wait can take up to 18 months, and Lauderdale has waited, so far, for three months.
Despite the daily physical struggle, Lauderdale saw a need at Riley Children’s Hospital, for an outdoor playground to match the one available inside.
Told the hospital lacked the funding necessary to provide the playground, Lauderdale inquired as to the cost. The answer was $10,000, and the determined teen set to work, holding a weekly bake sale and other fundraising projects, raising $5,000 in three weeks time.
Very recently, a visit by a representative of the Mooney Foundation brought Lauderdale a check for $5,000, thus completing her task.
The plucky teen, having met her goal, soon set a new one, this time to raise $1 million for Riley.
Lauderdale was rewarded for her kindhearted efforts and her inspiring example Thursday evening, at the Roy Clark building in Linton, where the teen was named Greene County’s Bright Futures Shining Star for 2017. The banquet was held to reward, recognize and honor 10 local youth from all over Greene County, and to announce the winner.
The Greene County Daily World received a large amount of nominations, culling them down to just 10.
All 10 nominees, with the exception of Bloomfield’s Andrew Templeton, away on a band field trip, attended Thursday’s banquet with proud parents and families by their sides. Lauderdale, through the use of video chat with sister Tara, heard her name announced as the winner from her bed at Riley, seeing the faces of her proud family reflecting their pride in the teen.
“It’s just amazing,” said Lauderdale’s aunt, Stephanie Buskirk. “We are so proud of her.”
Lauderdale’s mom Jessica, a teacher at Bloomfield Elementary, expressed her surprise as well.
“We didn’t expect that,” the elder Lauderdale said with tears in her eyes, “She had such a big smile on her face when she heard. She continues to make her family very proud.”
Contacted after the win, Lauderdale herself seemed surprised.
“I’m happy,” she said. “I’m so happy.”
Older sister Tara, beaming at her little sister’s win, said, “Some days, she’s cheerful and some days not. She has good days and bad days like anyone else, but I am so inspired by her. The big sister is supposed to inspire the little sister, but she’s the one inspiring me.”
Lauderdale is one of 10 students recognized at Thursday's event, which included:
• Landon “Happy” Gilmore, nominated by Kim Ellett
• Annie Pegg, nominated by Jennifer Medina
• Zoie Phegly, nominated by Tammy Wright
• Carson Sherer, nominated by Jamie Sherer
• Eyan Sullivan, nominated by Carla Sullivan
• Andrew Templeton, nominated by Braden Hudson
• Braden Webster, nominated by Chantel Eaton
• Noah Wilson, nominated by Kallie Rehmel
• B.J. Yoho, nominated by Jill Yoho
To read about all of these students and the good deeds they have done, view the special section published on April 15 here.
Greene County Daily World’s guests enjoyed a meal of salad, green beans, baked spaghetti, garlic bread and desserts, all prepared and served by a team made up of 2016 Difference Maker of the Year Debbie Bender, the third grade at Worthington Elementary, Deb Pruett, Beverly Stamm and GCDW’s Heidi Puckett.