Michaela (Kailey) Byrne
Cheyenne Mountain High School
Faces Behind the Disease
What did you do for your Gold Award project?
I created signs that had pictures and a story about a person who had Cystic Fibrosis (CF) to be put up at Great Strides Walks in Colorado. To get participants for my project, I went to the Colorado Springs Walk and set-up a booth that explained my project and also advertised through the CF monthly newsletter and their Facebook page. I asked the volunteers to answer questions about themselves like their favorites, family members, and what they want to be when they grew up. I also asked for 1-3 pictures of them. I then created individual signs plus some positive reinforcement signs and a few about the disease itself. I enjoyed trading emails with the volunteers getting to know them a little. The signs were put up at three different walks in Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins.
Why did you pursue this Gold Award project?
I have been a Girl Scout since I was a Daisy, all the way up to Ambassador. I wanted to earn all three (Girl Scout Highest) awards. Two of my older brothers earned their Eagle Scout Award, so they inspired me to get my Gold Award. I am part of a group called National Charity League. We work with various charities. We volunteer at the Downs Syndrome’s Buddy Walk. It is there I saw the ideas for making signs to personalize the walk. I thought it was a great idea! I have a cousin with CF and have participated yearly in the Great Strides Walk. It is a cause that is close to my heart. I have watched her struggles, yet she is still just an average 9 year old. I wanted to point out the people behind the disease.
How did your Gold Award project make a difference?
People with differences are thought of differently. Some people are afraid to look past the differences to see the similarities. I found a way to introduce people to some of the people they came out to support. I helped them see why they were there. I hoped I inspired people to go out and do what they want. To tell them to go for their goals by seeing others with challenges do what they love. Sometimes people are afraid of differences, but I think my signs helped them see that people with CF are the same as people without CF.
What skills did you gain through earning your Gold Award?
I learned how to properly introduce myself in person and through email. I worked on my communication skills. I learned about timing and organizing. I learned how to advertise and ask for things.
What will you most remember about your Gold Award project?
I think I will most remember the inspiring people with CF and hearing their stories. They were very helpful, and it was great to see even though they had a life threatening disease they follow their dreams, do what they want to do, and enjoy life. They do not let obstacles stand in their way; they are strong and go for their goals. Also I hoped that by showing the supporters what amazing people they are and how they follow their hearts, that anyone can do the same. This starts a whole chain reaction; if one person can see what these people are doing, that will inspire others to do what they want and so on. I take pride in the fact that I got help inspire people to live life to the fullest.
How will earning your Gold Award help you in your future?
I like having new experiences. They usually teach me lessons, or I learn a little bit about myself. I think the skills I learned will help me the most. I learned how to formally introduce myself, which will help me in a job interview or talking to clients for a future job. Organization and time management are skills everybody needs. I learned different ways of communicating, which is great because everybody communicates differently. I learned that although you might have a great plan in place, most likely you will have to make adjustments when unexpected events happen or people don’t react in the way you had planned.
Why do you feel the Gold Award is an important part of your Girl Scout experience?
I think it is important part of my Girl Scout experience because everybody benefits. I learned new skills and had fun experiences. It was very good to help others. It inspires other Girl Scouts to find a passion or cause and get to help out.