TERRE HAUTE —
Even third-degree burns don’t get a cheerleader down when it’s time to play.
Nine-year-old Carmen Schleppy — who suffered severe burns in 2011 — got on the field inside Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday as Indianapolis squared off against the Miami Dolphins. Earlier in the weekend she helped launch the Indiana Pacers’ opening night, all as part of the 2013 Class of Riley Champions presented by Kroger.
By 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the stadium was loud with cheers, but Carmen said over the telephone she was having fun.
“Watching the cheerleaders,” she said when asked about what she saw.
Last week, Carmen’s mother, Colleen, said her daughter’s accident on May 2, 2011, resulted in severe burns over 60 percent of her body. The family was moving into its new home just south of Brazil, and the little girl was standing next to the fireplace in their old home. Sparks caught onto her skirt, and within seconds her clothes were on fire. The burns, both second- and third-degree, were severe, covering her left leg and waist, up her back. Portions of her right leg and left hand were also burned.
Carmen was airlifted to Riley Hospital for Children, which offers the only pediatric burn unit in the state.
“All the nurses were outstanding,” Colleen said, crediting the program’s diverse range of therapies from physical to occupational. “She had to learn to walk all over again.”
Carmen spent three months at Riley as a patient, two of which were in bed. Nine surgeries and months of therapy later, she was back to catching frogs in her family’s pond.
“She’s back into tumbling and cheerleading and her normal Brownie activities. Nothing stops her,” Colleen said of the Jackson Township Elementary School student.
Kathy McGregor, clinical manager at the Riley Burn Center, said Carmen’s successful recovery is one of the reasons staff are so loyal to the program. Getting kids back to playing after severe burns is very rewarding.
“She had a tough fight,” McGregor recalled.
But the program incorporates as much fun into recovery as possible, and Carmen proudly displayed her necklaces full of beads and charms earned while an in-patient. Children in the burn unit are given beads each day as they complete routine tasks, from waking up and going to bed, to completing various therapies. The incentives add up, and by the end of three months Carmen had several necklaces full of ornaments.
The beads program, sponsored by former Colts player Jeff Saturday (now with the Green Bay Packers), gives kids something they can look forward each day, McGregor said.
“That’s something that’s pretty unique to what we do,” she said, explaining how the kids use the beads as a measure of their own progress.
Carmen also enjoyed her music and art therapy.
“I had lots of fun doing music therapy because I like to play the guitar,” she said.
Art therapy involved coloring and making princess ornaments, all of which helped her regain fine motor skills in her hand.
The Riley Champions program was launched five years ago to honor patients who have inspired communities with their bravery and commitment to help others. The group is selected from nominations submitted by Riley Hospital caregivers, Riley Children’s Foundation staff, school administrators and others inspired by their character.
After her experiences in the hospital, Carmen has begun raising funds for the Hoosier Burn Camp, which provides activities for children and networking for past patients.
With nurses at the hospital, she also helped start Compression for Compassion, a program which sends compression garments to burn survivors in Third World countries.
Carmen said she was looking forward to meeting the seven other Riley Champions in her class, and Thursday afternoon she was hoping to score a hug from Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
“Nothing gets her down,” her mother said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
18 months after injury, Carmen in spotlight from Riley, Colts
TERRE HAUTE —
Even third-degree burns don’t get a cheerleader down when it’s time to play.
Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature
Ella Boyles, 3, watches as her grandmother Verdeana Boyles starts a flower arrangement during the JMG! Jammin! Muddin! & Growin! Jr. Master Gardener Program on Tuesday at the west branch of the Vigo County Public Library in West Terre Haute.
Study finds school scores rising — poverty too
While Vigo County’s educational scores outperform the state average, schools are seeing the impact of an increase in the number of children living in poverty, according to the national Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 “Kids Count.”
No more teacher-led prayer in Vigo schools
As the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Vigo County School Corp. teachers and other staff will no longer be able to lead prayers during school-sponsored events.
Vigo school board candidate filing period begins today
Four of seven Vigo County School Board seats are up for election this year.
Six hurt in pickup crash on I-70
An accident on Interstate 70 that injured six people Tuesday afternoon is being attributed to mechanical failure.
Cops know where hoax call came from — next is who made it
Police have identified the location from which a bomb threat was made and mentioning The Meadows shopping center.
Parties fill openings on fall ballots
The face of the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election has changed slightly after a July 15 deadline for major parties to nominate candidates and independent candidates to file for positions that were left vacant after the May primary election.
Motorcyclist critical from head trauma after crashing bike
A Vigo County man remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition following a motorcycle accident on Monday evening.
Greene County woman dies from motorcycle wreck injuries
A Linton woman has died as the result of a motorcycle crash on Monday in Greene County on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
Man whose body found in trailer identified; how he died still undetermined
The body discovered inside a trailer in Montgomery County last month has been identified as a man whose last known address was in Clinton.
Vigo schools miss out on preschool programs for low-income students
Vigo County schools were not selected, but schools in Indiana’s three most populous counties were among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death at Raccoon Lake
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful after his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
WTH house fire under investigation
No injuries were reported in a West Terre Haute house fire that is under investigation.
Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man
Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton
Troubled bridge over water
For years, the iconic, arched foot-bridge at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College had been the backdrop for pictures of newlyweds, prom-goers and Woodsies.
Pool construction bids, principals approved
After more than a year of discussion, debate and planning, work on the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center at Voorhees Park is expected to begin today.
‘Launch’ pad for creativity
In an effort to foster entrepreneurs to begin and grow their ideas into a start-up business in Vigo County, “Launch Terre Haute” will host a co-work open house Wednesday.
Gelato at 12 Points
Coffee and gelato are now on the menu on Terre Haute’s north side.
Man pulled from Raccoon Lake
Indiana Conservation divers recovered a Veedersburg man reportedly submerged Monday afternoon at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
Mall evacuated after bomb threat
The Meadows Shopping center was evacuated about 5 p.m. Monday after police received a report of an alleged bomb threat.
UPDATE: Faulty brakes blamed for bus crash
Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confirmed Monday that a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal crash last week had faulty brakes.
Police in Indy nab 2nd suspect in homicide case
A second man has been arrested in connection with a homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested Monday morning by Indianapolis police.
Police credit public tips for meth lab bust
Tips from the community helped lead to the arrest of a Terre Haute woman on charges including the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
Vigo County Council OKs tax abatements
Two companies received final approval from the Vigo County Council Monday for 10-year real and personal property tax abatements.
Police: Brakes on church bus involved in fatal crash were faulty
Investigators confirmed there was a problem with the brakes on a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal accident last week in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tour de force
Pedal by pedal, a group of cyclists endured the hot summer sun and braved varying Indiana terrain on a mission to support survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Living in a dream
“Welcome to the dream home!”
These were the words that greeted guests on Sunday as they entered a white, two-story home on the east side of Terre Haute.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Lake Michigan’s ‘Wonderful World of Color’
Despite the beauty around us, Joanie and I thought of television as we sat on a gorgeous Michigan beach one evening last week.
UPDATE: One suspect in homicide in custody
Police have taken one Greene County man into custody and the search entered its second day on Sunday for the other suspect, both wanted on charges of murder and considered “armed and dangerous.”
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Expiring term heightens the urgency of one lawmaker’s push for reform
State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.
The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.
- More News Headlines
- Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature