In every school there are hundreds of stories of perseverance, triumph, and amazing growth. Shiloh’s story is one of those. We sat down with Shiloh, a fourth-grader at AF Hartford Academy Elementary, and her mother Prudence, to hear her story.
Tell us about yourself! How do you describe yourself?
Shiloh: I am funny. Funny and happy. I like to make people laugh, and I also like to watch videos—94% of those videos are probably about facts, I like those the best. I am the first girl in my family. My middle name is Hope.
Prudence: She is very happy. She’s persistent and outspoken, and she’s very talkative.
What are you most proud of?
Shiloh: I have grown a lot, and I’m doing a lot of things I thought I couldn’t do. I never thought I’d be good in ELA, and I’m on level X (level Z is 8th-grade proficiency). My best friend Gabby has a level Z, and we’re always competing to see who does the best.
Prudence: There is so much that I am proud of. In 2016, Shiloh was in school, and she felt a pain in her back. They took her to the hospital, and we found out she was paralyzed from the neck down.
Shiloh: They didn’t know what caused it, but I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis. I was out of school for six months. When I came back they were taking the SBAC (Connecticut State Test). It took the other students a long time to do it. I finished in 45 minutes, and I got the highest score in the grade.
That must be so hard to deal with, and what you did is amazing. How did you do it?
Prudence: We’re Christian, so we pray a lot. I play gospel music if she needs uplifting. We also talk about Bible principles she will relate to.
Shiloh: Job is my favorite because when he lost everything he was persistent and kept his faith, and in the end he had twice what he had before. I can’t wait to beat my brother Josh in a race when I can walk again.
Prudence: I am always advocating for her and being persistent so she can get what she needs. I wanted her to get back to school so that the other kids could see her and know that her brain is there, it’s just that her arms and legs don’t work. And now, they are working better than they used to when she first came back.
You’ve put in a lot of hard work. Can you tell us about it?
Shiloh: Every four hours, I have to do a procedure. I also do physical therapy, three hours a day, in the beginning it was four times a week. At first I couldn’t move anything. The first thing I moved was my pinkie finger. I thought my occupational therapist was going to pull out her hair, she was shocked. I am excelling just like I do in school.
Prudence: She is determined, and none of us are not giving up on her. What I tell her is, “you’re going to be treated no differently than before it happened.” If she asks for help, I tell her to help herself first and let’s see what she can do.
Shiloh: Just because you’ve been down a little bit doesn’t mean your expectations are going to be changed.
What does the future hold for you?
Shiloh: I am going to be an author or an illustrator of children’s books. I love writing and making up stories, and I also love art—painting, sculpture, all of it. When I was younger, I saw a picture of a cat looking at a vase. I made a drawing of it and when my mom put it up, people couldn’t tell which one was the photo and which was the drawing.
Prudence: We are shooting for a college scholarship for her. I see her doing even more than illustrating and writing. I see her teaching and being a motivational speaker.
What advice do you have for other kids who might be going through struggles like you have had?
Prudence: You can be scared, you can be frightened, but don’t let anything stop you from achieving.
Shiloh: I just always think that things are working for my good. Everything will be good in its own way, you just have to wait for it. I know that everything’s going to turn out fine. I just wait for it—and I work while I wait.