Nine-year-old Hailey has a big weekend ahead of her.
“I’m so excited,” she said from her school library in Land O’ Lakes.
It was just a long road getting here.
Hailey was diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of six in 2014. At that time, spots started appearing on her scalp and then went down to her feet – 80 to 85 percent of her body was covered with psoriasis. She tried many, many different therapies but nothing worked.
“When I was in first grade I got bullied,” she said. “It felt like people didn’t like how I looked or how I felt. It made me feel sad.”
It started on the school bus and didn’t let up.
“She didn’t want to come to school,” said fifth-grade teacher Sara Martin. “She was very upset about the way she looked. Even though she was a beautiful girl she couldn’t see that and because others pointed it out, it got to the point where she was going to believe them.”
The only answers her family found came from Dr. Seth Forman. He tried an adult therapy that worked for Hailey after all of the adolescent ones failed.
The teachers at her school noticed how upset Hailey was getting with the bullying and made a change. Fifth graders created an anti-bullying squad that shadowed Hailey and kept her from being made fun of in the halls at school. Third graders made a jewelry box and put friendship bracelets inside with words of encouragement. She still has the box and bracelets.
On Saturday, Hailey will serve as the Youth Ambassador for the National Psoriasis Foundation Tampa walk.
“I felt good after that,” she said.