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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Children are inspiration for Wellington woman

  • The speaker is a six-year old cancer patient named Grace who is Wellington’s Jaedyn Ledesma’s new friend and who Jaedyn visited last week at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. Ms. Ledesma was participating in America’s Homecoming Queen National Pageant’s event at the Auto Zone Liber...
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  • By Karl Younkman
    The Wellington Daily News
       “Life is a learning experience that teaches us to face difficult moments with bravery, and to appreciate the beautiful moments that life brings us. I love life, and for that reason I am happy.”  Words from a wise old sage? Perhaps someone who has conquered adversity and been successful in life?  Well, not exactly.
         The speaker is a six-year old cancer patient named Grace who is Wellington’s Jaedyn Ledesma’s new friend and who Jaedyn visited last week at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis. Ms. Ledesma was participating in America’s Homecoming Queen National Pageant’s event at the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl jn the Tennessee city and the visit to St. Jude’s was the highlight of her experience for the week.
         “Just being with the kids and seeing how happy they were when they are in a situation where they may not be alive tomorrow was just so moving and inspirational,” Jaedyn remembers. “It is a lesson to cherish every moment with friends and family.”
         At St. Jude’s there is an ABC wall and each letter has a phrase that goes with a letter. There are many letters with many extravagant meanings. “Grace is a Hispanic patient and the letter she chose is V for Vida (life),” said Jaedyn. “That in itself is inspiring. Then, the letter F is chosen for Family. ‘When you have cancer your family hurts for you. When you are sad, your family cries with you and when you are happy, your family laughs with you. Family is there whenever you need them to be.’ That being said, I learned from the patients that they learn to live every moment and don’t take a second to feel sorry for themselves. And we are all so very blessed and lucky for good health”
    Ledesma was equally impressed with the doctors and psychologists of St. Jude’s. Jaedyn plans to study child psychology and would like nothing more than to return to St. Jude’s to take up her career.
         “The doctors give the kids so much hope,” says Jaedyn. “The psychologist would talk to the kids before they receive their shots and the doctor would first demonstrate the shot on a baby doll so the kids would be less scared at that moment. That demo was so inspiring and that’s what I want to do to help make a difference.”
         One of the older girls Jaedyn met at the hospital was diagnosed as a 7th grader with cancer on her leg. After a round of chemotherapy was unsuccessful, the doctors were forced to remove her leg. “She is 16 now and cancer-free and she is helping out at the hospital, “ said Jaedyn.
    Page 2 of 2 -      Jaedyn also brought along two stuffed animals to the hospital to hand out. “I had 20 dollars and bought what I could and gave one of the teddy bears to a little girl,” said Jaedyn, who found out some happy news along with the little girl. “She found out that morning that she would get to go home.”
          After the Monday morning visit to St. Jude’s, the Queens were feted in the Liberty Bowl parade. “There was more people than I’d seen in my entire life along the parade route,” says Jaedyn. “They were 10 feet deep for 3 miles.”
          Also, trolleys were available for the girls to tour the historic city. “I saw most of the classic recording studios and we saw Elvis’ mansion, but only from the outside. It’s huge!”
         Then came Game Day! Each Homecoming Queen had a Navy personnel escort to lead them onto the field for a pre-game ceremony. And then came the National Anthem, sung by a nine-year old girl. And, of course, Jaedyn took notice. “Here’s this little girl singing before 70,000 people,” Jaedyn remembers fondly. “I think I would have been terrified to do that.”
         At halftime, the girls “got to do a little dance” with the halftime band, Diamond Rio and so, then, came the end of a memorable three days. What remains is the many pictures Jaedyn’s friend Tyler Benson took and the memories and inspirations of a lifetime.
        “I definitely want to go back to St. Jude’s,” Jaedyn states. “ I learned from this trip and realized how important family is and how thankful I am for them and how much they love me.”
         And Wellington and the Sumner County community stands proud of Jaedyn Ledesma.

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