Angel Moten rappelled down a cliff in Australia recently, a trip that rewarded her strength and achievement in the face of some frightening challenges.
After she noticed uncontrollable twitching in her arms and shoulders, Angel was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy in February 2010. She missed three weeks of school but still made the A-B honor roll.
Last October, the then-eighth-grader from Statesville got a letter from the People to People Ambassador program that invited her on a visit to Australia based on her academic performance. The program is a way to promote cultural understanding through educational travel.
Angel said she was very surprised to get the letter; her mother, Kimberly Moten, figured it was some kind of a joke until she checked with school officials and determined it was legitimate. They still dont know who made the nomination for the trip.
Angels mother was worried about letting her go so far away with her condition but said, The doctor told me it would be OK, that as long as she takes her medication, she would be fine.
In need of money for the trip, Angel and her mom came up with an idea to turn 5-gallon jugs into angels by dressing them in handmade T-shirts, wings and a halo. Many local businesses sponsored the jugs for the fundraiser Be an angel, help an Angel in which people could drop money in the jugs to help fund the trip.
I knew what Angel had been through and how hard she had worked, so we were determined to make it happen, her mom said.
Their goal was to raise nearly $7,000, but they collected about $600. Kimberly Moten was undaunted. I worked hard and my family pitched in to make the rest of it happen, along with private donations, she said.
Angel vividly recalls the highlights of her 21/2-week trip: I got to watch the sunset at Uluru (Ayers) Rock. I stayed with the host family and learned what they did in their daily lives and volunteered at a school. I even went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef!
Now shes in her freshman year at Statesville High School, taking medicine for her epilepsy every night, and looking forward to other adventures.