What courage means to me

By Melinda Walker, 2017 patient ambassador

Friday, Sep 15 2017

melinda

Courage is being yourself without fear of judgment.

When I was 12, I got severe burns on my stomach and inner thighs from a treadmill accident. I got pulled underneath the treadmill while it was still running and became trapped in-between the wall and treadmill. I was stuck for what seemed like an eternity! Luckily, my aunt was there to stop the treadmill and pull me out.

I went to my pediatrician who immediately recognized that I had severe burns. They sent me to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where I was seen by a burn specialist team and learned that I would need surgery. The day of my surgery was my 12th birthday. (Great birthday present, huh?) I was in a cast for about three months so that my skin grafts would stay in place, and then I got the “exciting” news that I would have to wear compression pants for two years.

At school, I thought no one would like me because of my scars. I was really scared for people to see them and ask questions. Even now, years later, I am asked questions about my scars. Sometimes I get tired of telling my story several times a day.

A few months after my accident, I attended Burn Camp, a camp for pediatric burn survivors through Children’s Colorado. In addition to my family's support, my time at Burn Camp was the best part of my healing. It helped me to overcome my fear of having scars and feeling different. I learned how to answer people’s questions and how to manage my feelings when people ask me about my scars. I met so many great people -- most of whom I still talk to today! It was so cool to see other kids like me who weren't scared of showing their scars.

Ever since Burn Camp, I’ve gained the confidence to show my burns and wear shorts, skirts and dresses. I’ve also become more active and have made better friends. I now attend both the summer and winter Burn Camps every year.

Your donations help kids like me find strength and courage. For me, camp is just as important as seeing the doctor. Your support helps to fund these amazing support programs.

I am so honored to be a 2017 patient ambassador for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, and I am grateful to help other children gain confidence and courage – just like Children’s Colorado did for me.

Make a difference

The Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Camps Program is funded entirely through the support of generous donors. For more information on how you can help kids like Melinda, call 720-777-1700 or visit us online.

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