“I asked my mom, why did God make me have scoliosis? And she says, he knew that you could handle it.”
Rayleigh Bell is anything but a typical 8-year-old. Already in her young life, she has endured the pain of living with scoliosis and started a business to help other children suffering from the same disease.
Receiving the Diagnosis
At just 2 years old, Rayleigh’s mom noticed a bulge on her back. She immediately became concerned and took her to the hospital for tests.
Rayleigh’s family was unfamiliar with scoliosis and uncertain what the treatment would be for their daughter. After numerous x-rays, a severe s-curve was found in the middle of her spine that goes 71 degrees to the right. It was devastating. What would Rayleigh’s future look like? Would she be in constant pain?
Rayleigh received her first back brace at 6-years-old. The doctors were unable to prepare them for what was ahead.
“People used to call me turtle shell… It really hurt my feelings because they don’t know how much pain I’m in. I can’t control if I have scoliosis or not.”
Rayleigh began feeling alone and isolated as her treatment progressed. She was no longer able to participate in dance and was missing school due to the pain.
Rayleigh’s stepfather noticed how she was struggling and decided to take action. He began working on a project that he hoped would bring her comfort and support. He created a stuffed bear with a scoliosis brace was made that looked exactly like Rayleighs. After getting the bear, Rayleigh turned to her mom and said: “Mom, now I have a friend just like me.”
Her stepfather’s thoughtful gift helped her feel understood. She took the bear with her everywhere.
The Braced Bear…Giving Back
“What if we gave away braced bears to kids who are dealing with what I’m dealing with so they have a friend and don’t have to do it alone.”
Through Rayleigh’s golden heart and amazing abilities as a young entrepreneur, The Braced Bear was formed. This organization is dedicated to providing children with scoliosis stuffed bears with a scoliosis brace, just like Rayleighs. They started with 25 bears and visiting their local children’s hospital to deliver them. It was just the beginning and Rayleigh knew she needed to do more.
“My dream is to give bears in braces to every kid with scoliosis in the United States.”
Her mother’s company, CTI, stepped up to help fund The Brace Bear to accomplish their dream. Rayleigh doesn’t want to stop at anything until other children with scoliosis feel supported and understood.
At just 8 years old, this young entrepreneur has accomplished more than she could ever imagine. By selflessly creating her own organization, she is providing the comfort and confidence that children with scoliosis need.
For more uplifting stories like Rayleigh’s, click here.
Want to get involved? Go visit The Braced Bear charity for more information.