Imagine waking up every day of your life hoping that breathing wouldn't be a struggle.
Imagine putting on a vest that forcefully vibrates your chest so that the mucus will loosen and not build up on your lungs. You must also take a regiment of medicine each day to help prevent gallstones, decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach, boost your appetite, fight off bacteria, fight depression, help digest food and a variety of other conditions that help you to survive.
You try to live life as normally as possible in between doctors visits and hospital stays. You also know to pack a bag when you go to the doctor because there is a decent chance you will have to go right to the hospital for a few days.
This is the life of Megan Owen, Shelby High School's McGowan Courage Award recipient.
Megan has cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems where the body produces a thick and sticky mucus that can clog the lungs and obstruct the pancreas. Cystic fibrosis can cause persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe.
Megan has spent numerous days in the hospital and has had to deal with all the side effects of this disease, yet still is able to maintain a cheery and determined attitude.
"Megan exemplifies the spirit of this award," guidance counselors Edie Lerback and Bobbi Weaver wrote in their McGowan Courage Award nomination letter.
Although cystic fibrosis presents daily issues for Megan, she has decided that she is going to live her life to the fullest. She is involved in many organizations at Shelby High School and Pioneer Career and Technology Center, including student council, golf and Pioneer's HOSA chapter, for which she serves as secretary.
Megan has also belonged to two groups that motivate and encourage girls, GOLD at Shelby High School and GEMS at Pioneer. Recently, Megan was honored as a member of the first group of students to be inducted into the National Technical Honor Society at Pioneer.
For six years Megan has been part of her church youth group that has made mission trips to Louisville, Kentucky to help those who are less fortunate. She is a past member of 4H and has shown animals at the Richland County Fair. Megan is also an advocate for spreading the message about cystic fibrosis and the help to find a cure for this terrible disease.
"If you were to only look at Megan's accomplishments in high school you would say that she has had a very successful and rewarding experience," her nominators said. "It is remarkable that she has been able to do as much as she has while fighting a horrible disease.
"Courageous is only one word that can be used to describe Megan, but it is a fitting word for her."
Her parents Kenny and Mindy Owen said they are extremely proud of their daughter.
"She is definitely one of the most brave and courageous individuals that we know," they said. "Megan often fights daily battles that no one else sees; however, she never lets her disease keep her down for long. She always fights through these struggles and doesn’t let her cystic fibrosis stop her from striving for her dreams.
"Megan is a wonderful example to others that you should never give up and you can accomplish anything if you are willing to work hard."
Megan said she's honored and humbled to have been nominated for this award by her counselors and principal.
"I am grateful to them, along with all of my teachers, both at Shelby and Pioneer Career and Technology Center, for their willingness to always work with me," she said. "Their support and encouragement have definitely helped get me where I am today.
"I would also like to thank the Rotary for sponsoring this award and look forward to using the funds to further my education in pursuit of my nursing degree."
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.