When Danielle Travis asked her fellow Washington Youth Tour students to vote for her favorite charity on facebook, she had no idea how they would respond.
“I know a lot of you have facebook,” Danielle told the crowd on their last night in Washington, D.C. in June. “There are 54 of us here, and if 50 people voted once a day for 72 days that would be 3,600 votes—which is a lot.”
Danielle’s charity managed to get a few more votes than that. When the voting was over on August 27, CURED, which stands for Campaign Urging Research for Eosinophilic Disease, received 75,879 votes—enough to earn the charity $100,000 for research.
Danielle, who represented Aiken Electric Cooperative on Youth Tour, had good reason to support CURED. She was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis when she was 14. Not exactly a well known disease, “EoE” causes the body to produce abnormally large amounts of white blood cells that can lead to allergy-related illnesses. The disease makes it difficult to eat almost anything. “Foods just became unsafe and scary,” said Danielle.
While on Youth Tour, Danielle couldn’t eat food like the rest of the group. She carried around juice-type boxes containing a special, nutritionally balanced liquid formula. In July, her doctors gave her the good news. She could start trying real food again, one item at a time, to see how her body reacts. “I chose corn,” said Danielle.
So far, Danielle’s corn experiment has gone well. So well, that in late July Danielle held a “Corn Party” to celebrate. This month, she’ll find out if she can begin trying another food. “Kinda excited, kinda nervous,” Danielle said.
Excited, nervous and thankful, Danielle looks toward her future with courage and determination that goes beyond her 17 years. She’s especially thankful to her fellow South Carolina Youth Tour students for their help in spreading the word and bringing in the votes for her charity. “I thank each and every one of you,” Danielle wrote on her facebook wall. “You have no idea how much your support truly means. Wow. It’s incredible!”