Presented by WVU Medicine Children’s and West Virginia KIDS COUNT
The children in West Virginia are many things: tough, kind, thoughtful, industrious, awe-inspiring. We are reminded of that by the nominations submitted to us this year from across the state. We are honored to share the stories of all 61 exceptional West Virginia kids and a special congratulations to the three who were voted by our readers most incredible.
Lucas was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 7, and he has never let that slow him down. Luke is a talented athlete but also maintains a 4.0 GPA in school. He volunteers at the local fire department, referees flag football, coaches the littles, and even helps seniors carry groceries into their homes.
When the Kids Heart Challenge started at Thomas’s school this year, he knew he wanted to help. He raised more than $1,400 by playing a “thank you” song on the piano for every donation of $25 or more he received. Thomas learned and recorded 32 new and individual songs to be sent to his supporters.
Jaxon preaches at youth camps, tent revivals, and regular church services. He is a typical boy who likes shooting skeet, riding fourwheelers, and enjoying the great outdoors. Wise beyond his years, Jaxon loves our military, respects his elders, and has a quick wit, like his father. He’s an all around “American kid”!
Lily was born without a very important part of her brain: the corpus callosum. Because of this, she has been having seizures and is severely developmentally delayed. She is working hard in occupational and physical therapies as well as speech, developmental, and vision therapies.
Braxton underwent open heart surgery in August 2022. He was diagnosed with aortic stenosis before birth and has had two heart surgeries since. He is a strong, independent little guy who never stops.
When Gede was born with multiple health issues including brain damage, he went home with hospice. But he has beaten the odds and brings happiness to everyone he meets.
Hunter is kind and creative and loves a good knock-knock joke. He is notorious for welcoming the new kids and making friends with anyone who passes by. He works hard at school in hopes of one day becoming an aerospace engineer.
Bella is a freshman who loves to run. She also maintains above a 4.0 GPA with AP and honors classes. Bella has overcome a lot of adversity, largely because of her positive mindset, selfawareness, and inner strength. She is humble and graceful and credits her extensive support network for her success.
13, Paden City
Jozie has the biggest heart of gold and is always willing to help others and offer a hand when needed. She is very active with the school band while also playing volleyball, being a cheerleader, and being a member of the school robotics team and the quiz bowl team. Jozie maintains a 4.0 GPA and is one of the top in her class, named to the Principal’s List.
Two years ago, Maxin was diagnosed with dyslexia. He asked his mom, “What happens to the kids who don’t know?” Maxin teamed up with Parkersburg High School English teacher Amy Ramsburg and state Senator Patricia Rucker to pass the Dyslexia Bill, which requires the state of West Virginia to screen all students K–3.
13, Bruceton Mills
Crosby is a pint-sized bundle of caring, kindness, and love. She maintains good grades, plays softball, and cares for others. Most recently, she devoted herself to caring for her aging great-uncle, visiting, eating meals, and just spending time with him right up until the end.
Brady created a program called Seeds of Love to fight hunger when he was just 5 years old, which he continues to run today. He uses his creativity to make a difference in the world. Brady is shown here in a music video promoting the values of kindness and tolerance as part of the program “We Need to Talk.”
SAILOR AND MONRAE
Sailor and Monrae are best friends who run 5Ks together. They drive each other to keep going and never give up on one another, running a total of six 5Ks in 2022. The friends continue to run together and push each other to be the best they can be.
Clark was diagnosed with autism shortly before turning 3 and has improved with conversations and interactions by leaps and bounds. He is an amazing big brother, friend, and representative of his true self always. Clark never lets the opinions of others damper his spirit or drive.
Paxton is a unique little boy with a rare genetic disorder called cardiofaciocutaneous (CFC) syndrome. He spent his first eight months of life in the PICU, enduring many challenges including open-heart surgery and a tracheostomy. Paxton continues to face challenges, but he does it all with a smile on his face.
When other students need help, Yesinia is the dependable “go-to” person who will help without judgment. She sets a great example of setting goals and working hard to achieve them, regardless of difficulty. Yesinia has been accepted at WVU this fall to pursue business and marketing.
BLAKE, OWEN, AND NOAH
10, 4, 13; Cross Lanes
These brothers are wonderful kids. The youngest, Owen, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He was so upset about losing his hair that his brothers shaved theirs off as well. The boys have really helped out with everything, while keeping their grades up in school.
Mikaila has a passion for photography and loves looking at the night sky. She has applied for HSTA and the Governor’s STEM camp at Green Bank. She was a member of her school’s robotics team and competed with the team at Fairmont State University. She was chosen as a county alternate for Math Field Day.
Kellyanne is very caring and considerate, and she always has a smile on her face. She loves learning new things, participating in science experiments and cooking activities, and creating new artwork. Kellyanne was chosen as Classroom Leader of the Month for her good character and respectful nature.
Levi was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) at the age of 5. He has faced changes in his physical ability over the last two years, never complaining and with a smile on his face. This boy has so much concern, love, and compassion for all of his family. Levi is an incredible child!
Olivia has a heart of gold and pushes herself to be the best at anything she does. She dances competitively, spending eight hours a week in the studio and taking nine different classes. She’s active in her school and participates in the ASL club. She’s the biggest goofball and can put a smile on anyone’s face with her energetic, positive self.
Matthew is an outstanding young man who is active in Beta Club, track, and football. Matthew has participated in Junior Police Academy and several camps to help him reach his future goals while having fun. He was also selected to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference in D.C.
Nate is an outgoing, witty, and fun-loving kid who loves the Lord. He often takes food and flowers to a couple different neighbors and spends time with them, showing he cares. He’s quick to lend a hand when called upon for help with chores and is always respectful. The world is a better place with this kid in it.
Rubianna started gymnastics at the age of 2 and has loved it and been dedicated ever since. She gives it her all and hopes to be a professional gymnast like Simone Biles when she grows up.
At 10 years old, Aiden started getting sick. For months, doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Finally, he was sent to an oncologist and found out he had stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Through multiple hospital stays, tests, scans, surgeries, and treatments, Aiden stayed strong—he never once broke down. He kept his family, doctors, and nurses laughing, his strength and courage seeing everyone through it. Aiden has started collecting items for children and their parents who get admitted to the hospital suddenly, and he would like to start a nonprofit to continue helping sick kids in West Virginia.
Aleah recently started kindergarten, adjusting well and making new friends. She even received The Caring Award!
6, Gap Mills
Tully’s kindness and gentle nature are evident almost immediately upon meeting him. His level of maturity and sense of community are evident. He began receiving books from birth until age 5 through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program—it was one of his highlights each month. When Tully turned 6, he was disappointed to discover that he was no longer eligible to receive books and devised a plan, “Tully’s Tubs.” Tully decided to sell the leftover livestock supplement tubs from his family’s farm and donate $1.00 to the program from each tub he sold. When local and corporate sponsors heard about Tully’s Tubs, they came on board and matched his contribution. To date, Tully has raised $1,350.
Masie shows incredible leadership skills. She always looks for someone who might need help, taking it upon herself to look around the room to see if she can help her peers. Masie can always be counted on to make good decisions and do what’s best, not only for herself but for her classmates as well.
Adam’s father passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, March 28. His theater troupe was performing in a state competition on that Thursday. He did not want to let down his friends, who had spent countless hours preparing, so despite his grief, he performed. This dedication makes him an incredible friend and son!
Hannah was given an official proclamation from Governor Jim Justice, who declared February 28 Rare Disease Day in the state of West Virginia. Hannah was diagnosed with severe congenital neutropenia. She tells everyone who will listen that “God made me this way so I can change the world.” And she truly believes it.
9, St. Marys
Aubree is a pianist and artist. She is kind, and she loves Jesus, cheerleading, and her chickens.
When Evie was 13 months old, she seemed to be having seizures. After oodles of testing and research, it was concluded Evie had paroxysmal tonic upgaze. She has now outgrown her PTU but has other developmental delays. She has a heart the size of West Virginia—when it rains, she worries about the worms outside.
Elijah’s ability to talk to anyone, to know names and stories, has been a gift to those who know him. As he grows older, he uses his independence to the benefit of others. Among his interests sits his ability to unite and inspire others, his respect for elders in the community, and his unwavering care for others.
Ferry Liam was born premature and has had his share of behavioral challenges. With the assistance of WV Birth to Three, he attended Universal Pre-K for special needs, and he has shown such growth and improvement that he was transferred to Head Start. His teacher’s can’t say enough about how intelligent and loving he is.
Josiah was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and spent time in the NICU while going through withdrawal. Due to his rough start in life, Josiah has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD, but that doesn’t stop him. He loves farm life and teaching everyone he meets about how to run a farm and the job of each animal.
Raylynn has been a small warrior since she was diagnosed at age 5 with Ewing sarcoma. After enduring years of almost living at WVU Medicine Children’s hospital and having multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and an amputation, she is now over three years cancer-free!
Hunter was born premature at 27 weeks. He was in the hospital more than he was out during his first four years of life, but he is thriving. Hunter is a friend to all—including the strangers at the grocery store—and is incredible because he continues to overcome obstacles with a smile on his face.
Town Zander was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in September 2022. He has not once since diagnosis let diabetes control him. From excelling in school to playing baseball, he is a pretty incredible kid!
For the second year in a row, Morgan has walked over 30 miles to raise funds for veterans. She raised more than $1,500 and spent it on shoes, clothing, glasses, and toiletries that she donated to the Clarksburg VA hospital. She honestly does it to be kind and to do the right thing.
Laura could be defined by her academic success in high school, her volunteerism, and the clubs and organizations she is a member of. Those things are wonderful, of course—but what makes her truly incredible is how she quietly lives her life every day, in humble love and service, not looking for recognition or awards.
Brooklyn has a soft spot for animals, takes care of her many pets, and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. Her pets are the first thing she thinks of every morning, feeding and caring for them all with little help from her parents. Brooklyn is always thinking of others and helps a lot around the house.
Springs Peyton was diagnosed with aplastic anemia in 2020 and developed PTLD lymphoma not long after. She made the goal of competing in pageants to help herself feel confident and inspire other young girls who may have experienced hair loss. Peyton competed in her first pageant less than a year later.
Despite her age, Maddie’s list of achievements is nothing short of spectacular. She is a driven, detail oriented 7th grader attending Mountain View School. She is at the top of her class as an honor roll student and year-round athlete and even leads a Bible study for the 7th and 8th grade students at her school, and she has big dreams of working in the medical field. She begins her year with volleyball, swiftly transitioning to basketball, and finishes her year out with softball and golf. Maddie is the type of student that will help any other student she knows is struggling, taking the time to explain the question at hand and walk the student through the answer.
Alta Ronan was born with laryngomalacia, a severe airway defect. Thanks to ENT Dr. Jaffal, Ronan is thriving. He is currently in occupational, physical, and speech therapies every week and is doing so much better. Ronan’s favorite things to do for fun are dancing, laughing, and spending time with family.
Maddie doesn’t let cerebral palsy slow her down even for a minute! She loves to spend as much time as possible outdoors playing with her sister and puppy. Maddie is also extremely active in Cub Scouts, where she enjoys camping, archery, fishing, and hiking with her fellow Bears.
Scarlett was born prematurely at 26 weeks due to a complication known as PPROM, weighing 1 pound 13.3 ounces. She faced many challenges during her three month NICU stay, like a collapsed lung, a brain bleed, and stage 2 retinopathy of prematurity in her eyes. Today, Scarlett is a thriving and active 3-year-old.
Zayn is an amazing, outgoing, kind-hearted person. He is fluent in both English and Arabic, learning more every day.
Gabe has a passion for helicopters with the goal of becoming a pilot for HealthNet Aeromedical Services. His 4-H presentation last year was about the mechanics and flying of aircraft. He was 13 years old when he arranged for a HealthNet helicopter landing to accompany his presentation, receiving a blue ribbon.
Born prematurely at 33 weeks, Caden spent a week in the NICU. He had his first surgery at one day old. Caden has VACTERL, which comes with many medical anomalies. He always figures out how to do things “his way.” He is the most resilient person and shows more courage than one could ever dream possible for a child.
Jack is kind and considerate, a friend to everyone. He works hard in class and loves to learn! Jack is quick to lend a helping hand, and he enjoys making others laugh and feel good. His sweet spirit warms the hearts of everyone in his life.
Mattea is the definition of an incredible kid! She has been an accomplished and talented singer/songwriter and pianist since the age of 7. Mattea is active in her church praise and worship team as both a singer and musician. She also plays baritone saxophone and steel drums, and she is in the jazz band and choir at school.
Grant loves farming and showing multiple species of animals. He does remote school and gets good grades. His passion is taking care of his family’s livestock and, on occasion, he helps in the family’s orchard.
Aimee has been fighting incurable brain cancer for two years, but she keeps her smile. Even though Aimee is paralyzed on her left side, she still makes things to give away to people she encounters.
Jayli is a 10-year-old journalist who has made a significant impact in her community through her passion for journalism and community service. She is the youngest member of the Black by God writing team and has written several articles that have been published and widely shared on blackbygod.org.
Maggie survived neuroblastoma stage 4, and has been thriving cancer-free for eight years. At just 6 years old, she raised over $60,000 and designed and built the Huntington Ronald McDonald House a whole new playground. She has currently raised over $125,000 to help build an indoor play space for the RMH.
Lilly wakes up every morning with the goal to make everyone smile. While homeschooling, Lilly loves to make things herself and bring people joy by gifting them her handcrafted items. She learned the craft of crochet in a day, she ties her own flies for fly fishing, and she can call in a turkey from miles away.
Peyton enjoys crafts, softball, and playing clarinet in her school band, and she wants to be a designer when she grows up. She loves participating in 4-H and has attended code, dance, and shooting sports camps. Peyton is looking forward to the county 4-H camp and showing pigs for the first time.
Izaiah was a foster child at the age of 1. When he was brought home, he was non-verbal and non-mobile, but he could smile and eat. Izaiah had a hearing problem, and he was autistic. With time and care, Izaiah has become very mobile and verbal, and he tries to help out even if he isn’t able to do it.