As a member of her high school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) team, 17-year-old Cierra is used to making quick decisions. But when she was cooking a meal last year and a grease fire erupted unexpectedly, she didn’t know what to do.
Grabbing the pan off the stove, the hot oil began splattering everywhere. Cierra dropped the pan, which landed on her right foot and caused severe burns.
Cierra was rushed to a local hospital near her hometown of Colorado Springs by her mom, Kim, but was then quickly transferred to the Burn Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado’s main campus in Aurora, because she needed specialized medical care.
Cierra’s mom was unable to join her daughter as she was transferred to Children’s Colorado by ambulance. Alone and anxious, Cierra tried to remain brave throughout the trip. The caregivers who rode with her helped ease her fears.
“The ambulance drivers helped me get through my trip,” said Cierra. “They helped keep me preoccupied, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable or focus on my pain.”
After spending two days in the hospital being treated for her burns, Cierra was released home. She continued to receive care at Children’s Colorado once a week until her wounds healed.
No parent wants to see their child go through something like a severe burn. But for both Cierra and her parents, they are grateful for the positive opportunities and experiences with Children’s Colorado that have come out of this difficult situation.
“Through this experience, Cierra has gotten the chance to try so many different kinds of activities and adventures,” said Terry, Cierra’s dad. “She had never been skiing before, but through burn camp, she got to try it and really enjoyed it.”
Cierra has been to Children’s Colorado Burn Camp twice, a program designed to meet burn patients’ needs. This weeklong camp, offered multiple times a year, provides challenging activities like hiking, rock climbing and skiing. It also allows patients to form lasting friendships with fellow burn victims and gain adult mentorship while setting goals.
Cierra has attended both summer and winter burn camps, challenging herself in new ways each time.
“I struggled going up the mountain during a hike, and I wanted to give up, but I didn’t. Once I got to the top, I felt like everything I went through to get there was worth it,” said Cierra.
Today, Cierra is a junior in high school and continues to be very active in her school’s JROTC program, which is ranked second in the nation. JROTC is designed to help students become engaged citizens, learn leadership skills and prepare them for a possible career in the military – and Cierra has done just that. She has had the opportunity to participate in JROTC competitions.
In the future, Cierra plans to attend college and join the military. She was so inspired by her doctors at Children’s Colorado that she wants to someday become a pediatrician.
Throughout Cierra’s journey, she has remained strong and courageous.
“Courage is not giving up and continuing to climb,” said Cierra.