Resilient. That's one of the best words to describe Mansfield Christian student Brynn McQuate.
In seventh grade, Brynn began to experience incredible fatigue that affected her schooling, social and personal life. After some in-depth medical tests, Brynn was diagnosed with Hoshimoto's disease, an autoimmune disorder that fights against the thyroid gland and affects nearly every organ of the body. Although continuing to struggle with fatigue, Brynn was treated for this chronic disease, which soon began to ease up, allowing her to return to the things she loved to do.
In the two years that followed, while still dealing with Hoshimoto's, Brynn developed asthma after a severe case of bronchitis. With the combination of these chronic physical challenges, Brynn became fearful and anxious, leading to severe panic attacks. Her surroundings, sounds and thoughts began to fill her with incredible fear that led to her being diagnosed with a severe high-functioning anxiety disorder. Despite these new challenges, Brynn continued to keep up with her schoolwork and grades, the cheer squad and her church volunteering.
As she began her junior year, severe abdominal pain and returning fatigue caused her to miss numerous days of school. After losing 45 pounds and countless medical tests, Brynn was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines.
Facing months of therapy, Brynn traveled between Mansfield and Columbus for infusion treatments while attempting to attend school half of the day in order to keep up with her coursework. Teachers observed Brynn's attempts to attend class while struggling to keep upright with the massive pain and fatigue she was experiencing. This led her to some very dark days of depression. However, after many months of treatments, Brynn's health began to improve, allowing her to catch up with her schoolwork, resume traveling and singing with the school's choral group known as Image, as well as return to cheering for games.
"Throughout the months and years of physical challenges, Brynn has remained positive and committed to succeed," wrote guidance counselor Charlene Eder in her McGowan Courage Award nomination letter.
With the faithful support of her family and a remarkable friend with cystic fibrosis, she has faced the reality of her diseases and has a passion to assist the medical community in ways that may help others in their battle of these diseases.
In addition, Brynn's goal is to become a high school history teacher in order to help educate and mentor high school students to be the best they can be just like the teachers she has had.
"Although Brynn may never be cured of medical challenges, her faith has remained secure in God," Eder wrote. "Her strength and hope come from her favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:6 & 7, etched in her leather wrist bracelet: 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'"
"We are grateful and thankful that Brynn was nominated for this award," said her parents Robert and Teresa McQuate. "For her, learning to live with Crohn's disease has been extremely difficult. She has relied on her faith in God, family and friends to persevere through this trying time in her life. We are very proud of her."
The Rotary McGowan Courage Award is supported by these sponsors: OhioHealth, Richland Bank, Haring Realty, Mechanics Bank, Gorman Rupp, North Central State College, Richland Source, Shelby Rotary Club, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, Mansfield Art Center, The Renaissance Theatre, Snyder Funeral Home, Hamilton Insurance Group, Mansfield Area Y, Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, Mansfield Memorial Homes, Buckeye Horizon, Chuck Warner & Associates, Baker's Collision Repair, Catalyst Life Services, Miller's Diamond Jewelry, Scott and Adena King, Charles Cook, Jon Young, Dan Phallen, Gary Stroup, Harold Davis, Steve Cummins, Karen Redfearn, Scott and Mary Young, Betty Preston, Pam Sigenthaler, Melanie Riggleman, DJ Daniels, Win Meek, Walt Chaffee, Pat Chilcote, and David Crawford.