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news News Tuesday, June 19, 2018 Tuesday, June 19, 2018 5:25 PM - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 5:25 PM

Emily Steffen

2018 Rainbow of Hope Winner

Emily Steffen

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Twin Cities is proud to announce Emily Steffen as one of this year’s Rainbow of Hope award winners. This prestigious award recognizes three current or former patients for the contributions they have made to their communities and ability to overcome life’s challenges with a positive attitude. Each winner receives a gift and their names are placed on the Rainbow of Hope plaque in the hospital’s main lobby. The award program was started 30 years ago by former Board member Bill Ash, from Osman Shrine, and Todd Anderson, former director of orthotics and prosthetics at the Twin Cities Shriners Hospital. Although both of these men have since passed away, they would take great pride in knowing the program they started continues to grow.

Emily Steffen is a vibrant 19 year old from Charter Oak, Iowa, who was born missing the lower part of her left arm. When she was younger, she was very upset that she was born different from the rest of her friends. Emily did her best to hide her left arm, and she would cry because she could not jump rope or climb on the monkey bars like her friends. Over time, she taught herself how to do everything that her friends were able to do. She learned to embrace her missing arm and stopped hiding it. Once Emily gained confidence in herself, she began to provide support for other people with differences in her community.

Emily had her first appointment at Shriners Hospitals for Children at 6 months of age when she was fit for her first prosthetic arm. She has now received 10 different prostheses over her years as a Twin Cities Shriners Hospital patient. Emily has done many activities with and without her prosthetic arm, including flag football, dance, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, softball and cheerleading. She has played the piano and trumpet, and currently uses her prosthesis to do yoga.

Emily’s family felt it was important for her to attend the Twin Cities Shriners Hospital’s Camp Achieve so she could spend time with other children who were missing limbs. For nine years, they traveled 5 hours to spend the week at various places nearby so Emily could attend camp. It is obvious that her family’s commitment had a positive effect on Emily, because once she “graduated” from camp at age 13, she came back to volunteer at multiple camps. She has been a great example to the younger kids while volunteering at camp and has taught other girls who are missing an arm how to tie their shoes and put their hair in a ponytail on their own.

Emily is an outgoing young woman who spends time raising awareness for people with disabilities. Last summer she even volunteered to wake up a 5 a.m. (without complaining), drive 3 hours each way to the Iowa Shrine Bowl Game, and share her experiences with the football players, coaches and cheerleaders about prosthetics. She expressed to this large group about how amazing her life has been because of growing up with a limb difference and how much Shriners Hospitals for Children has positively influenced her life.

Emily is currently studying global health at the University of Iowa and is taking the necessary classes towards getting into a master’s program for orthotics and prosthetics. Her goal is to become an orthotics and prosthetics practitioner so that she can help kids just like her to understand that they are never alone and that they can do anything they set their minds to.