Courageous Young Ice Skater Receives
National Honor and Key To The City
(Photo from left: Sharon Orton, Hang On to the Dream Foundation president Christopher Ewing,
Stephanie, Former Council Bluffs, Iowa Mayor Tom Hanafan)
Stephanie Orton of Council Bluffs, Iowa was just 7 years old when she was hospitalized with 2nd and 3rd degree burns suffered while in the care of her drug addicted parents. The court got involved and her parents eventually lost custody of Stephanie due to their constant drug abuse. After 9 months in foster care, Stephanie was adopted by her maternal grandmother who enrolled her in ice skating lessons in an effort to help take her mind off of all that she had been through. Now, 5 years later, Stephanie has excelled greatly in her skating, however the finances needed to continue skating have been hard for her grandmother to afford.
On Thursday, August 3, Stephanie was informed by Hang On to the Dream Foundation president Christopher Ewing that his organization has found a sponsor who is going to cover all of the costs of her skating lessons during a presentation ceremony held at the Council Bluffs City Hall. At the same time, Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan presented Stephanie with "The Key to the City" in recognition of her accomplishments and determination, becoming the youngest person in Council Bluffs history to receive the key. Stephanie applied for sponsorship at a Hang On to the Dream Foundation "Dream Search" event held recently in Omaha, Nebraska.
"This is really cool," Stephanie said, "and it feels really nice to know that there is someone out there who cares about helping me with my skating." Stephanie is being sponsored by a family from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Stephanie's grandmother and legal guardian, Sharon Orton, who has single-handedly been trying to afford Stephanie's skating expenses, while also trying to make ends at home meet at home, says that the sponsorship is a big help. "I am so happy right now that someone out there cares enough to help Stephanie. I thank them so much! I have always told Stephanie that if she just hung in there everything would work out, ...and now it has," Sharon said as her voice cracked and tears streamed down her face.
"Stephanie is exactly what the Hang On to the Dream Foundation is all about and we are thrilled that a very generous sponsor will now go on and play a part in helping her reach her goals in life," Ewing says.
The Hang On to the Dream Foundation is a national, non-profit organization, that helps kids all around the country reach their goals in life by providing them with needed items, opportunities and money in an effort to help make their dreams become a reality. The Hang On to the Dream Foundation is the first children's organization in the U.S. to establish a program where donors can personally choose the child, and the dream, that they wish to support.
Kids between the ages of 8 and 17 years of age can apply for sponsorship to cover the cost of their activities. Interested donors can log on to www.hangontothedream.org to choose a child to sponsor.
A very tearful Sharon Orton, and very happy Stephanie Orton, get a chance to say thank you to Stephanie's new sponsor via telephone from City Hall.
(Photo credit: Jim Ferguson, Hang On to the Dream Foundation staff photographer)
to view a video clip of Stephanie in action!
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