Like many typical teenagers, Lauren Coles, Greenwood, Ind., cannot wait to turn 18 in September. But for Lauren, turning 18 is not about becoming a legal adult. Instead, adulthood will allow Lauren to become an official volunteer for the Cheer Guild at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Riley physicians have cared for her since the age of 2.

The Cheer Guild is a volunteer organization that serves Riley Hospital and Indiana University Hospital by providing comfort to patients and families. Lauren has been a recipient of these gifts and has also donated several wagon-loads of books, games and toys. In her spare time, Lauren also makes bracelets, rings and bookmarks for the Cheer Guild’s mission.

Lauren is a Cerebral Palsy patient of Dr. Timothy Brei in the Developmental Pediatric Department and also receives treatment in the Cerebral Palsy Clinic. She underwent her first osteotomy surgery in 1999. Since then, Lauren has undergone three separate surgeries to operate on her baclofen abdominal pump. In addition, much of Lauren’s mobility equipment comes from the Riley wheelchair clinic and the brace/cast department. 

Though Lauren is wheelchair-bound, she is far from immobile. Along with her spirit of volunteerism, Lauren has been a camper at Camp Riley for 10 years, where she has learned to swim, climb, horseback ride, and most importantly, honed her incredible ability to write. In fact, Lauren is the author of a published book of poetry called Follow Your Dreams.

“I wrote my poetry book to help get my message out to others. They can discover their full potential in life, and I want to share my talent with others.” Lauren said.

Many of the poems, like the one below, are inspired by her time at Riley and her experiences at Camp Riley.

You Can’t Stop Me Now
You can’t stop me now.
You might see a girl who has challenges to face every day.
You might think the chains hold her down like a reflection in the mirror that would never move.
The wall of challenges won’t deny who I am.
You can’t stop me now.
When people are blue, I make them smile from ear to ear.
You can’t stop me now.
When you get knocked down, just follow my lead.
You can’t stop me now.
Perseverance is the key to a successful life.
Inspiring others to go after their dreams is my mission.
You can’t stop me now!

“You Can’t Stop Me Now” is just one of 12 poems published in Follow Your Dreams that inspire the reader to help others and to ultimately believe in oneself.

“She wants so much to help others,” her mother, Wendy Coles, said, “It’s so amazing. We’ll find ways for her to do that.”

From Lauren’s spirit of helping others, to her aspiration to receive a college degree, to her desire to share her talents with the world, it is clear that no one will stop this “Cheer Bringer” from reaching impressive, sky-high goals.

“In the future I hope to write inspirational books so that people can see beyond my disability, and it can help them push through obstacles they may have. I don’t want people to ever give up on their dreams even though they may be hard to achieve. I want to work at someplace like Riley so that I can give back to a place that has given me so much.” she said.

 

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