Veronica Kellogg started the Kansas chapter of the Medals4Mettle as a way to pay it forward.
“I want to help those who have been through life struggles and overcome major challenges,” she said. “I thank God for the ability to talk, walk, see and hear — something a lot of people take for granted.”
On Friday, 4-year-old Sophia Stepien became the first Kansas recipient of the program. Last September, she was diagnosed with cancer in her left kidney. She has since had her left kidney and some of her diaphragm removed and has undergone 27 weeks of chemo, according to her mother, Tiffany Stepien.
The medal, Kellogg said, is a way to acknowledge the struggles and challenges of Sophia and others.
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This is how the program works: People who have long-forgotten trophies and medals donate their old awards. The medals are refurbished and presented to those who most need them — children and adults dealing with chronic or debilitating illnesses.
“It is going to be rewarding to put a smile on someone’s face and to brighten their world,” Kellogg said. “I know what it is like on race day to get a medal.
“To me, a patient has gone through struggles and challenges and it will be nice to acknowledge that.”
The Medals4Mettle is a national nonprofit organization founded in 2005. Kellogg, 39, found out about the group in 2011 through Facebook and started a local chapter.
“It is nice to be able to give back to the community and help others,” Kellogg said.