By Cindy Morand, 21, who interviews fellow RED author Tiffani Hortman, 20, about her upcoming event to help young people (like her) who live with illness.
Published author and activist Tiffani Hortman, 20, was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy as a child—and has been helping her peers cope with chronic illness ever since.
On October 9, she will be participating in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Walk of Hope-Macon at Lake Tobesofkee (what a great name!), Georgia. Join her team from wherever you are. In this fun, meaningful way, you can provide help and hope to local families living with neuromuscular disease and fund groundbreaking research leading to a cure.
Cindy Morand: What motivates you—personally, and to help others with illness?
Tiffani Hortman: Life in general motivates me. I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis at age five, so I don't really know any different. It's a very rare autoimmune neuromuscular disorder—I think there are only five of us in the whole state of Georgia with it—that prevents me from being able to build any kind of muscle. I think growing up, I never really ever felt sorry for myself at all. I just love helping other people; it's how my parents raised me.
CM: Tell me about your upcoming fundraiser and why it's so important to give back.
TH: The potential impact of this MDA fundraiser is saving people's lives. One aspect of this that really speaks to me is sending someone to camp for a summer. Camp was the best thing that ever happened to me. This summer I worked at one I'd attended for 13 years as a camper. It's for children with all kinds of illnesses, from MD to cancer. I'm also teaching kids with chronic illnesses how to ride horses.
CM: What can other people our age do to help?
TM: Donate to my team! Just $30 buys a life-saving flu shot, and we're working toward those $800 camp scholarships. Any teen can look for this kind of camp or center. Or, more simply, If you see someone in a wheelchair having trouble, ask if you can help.
CM: How does MD effect you, and what would you like others to know about it?
TM: I tend to get tired faster than others. I also tend to get from people that I don't "look sick," like I had a police officer on campus try to write me a ticket because I didn't look like I needed my handicap tag. Most times people can't really tell I have anything wrong with me.
CM: I suppose that can be both good and bad? Sometimes you probably want people to know you're having a hard time?
TM: I sometimes wish adults would be more like four-year-olds: Four-year-olds don't have an issue with asking, Why do you walk that way? or Why are you in a scooter or wheelchair? I don't have an issue explaining what's wrong at all. You don't have to take a lot of time to help someone. Sometimes it's the little things that matter, like asking another human being to tell you their story.