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Local seeks help returning to national conference

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Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:00 am

Sets challenge for mayor in fundraising event, should he accept.

After holding various fundraisers around the community to reach her needed goal of $2,500 to make the trip possible, Gordon Central freshman Caitlin Stewart conquered Washington, DC earlier this month and hopes to return to a second conference with the Future Medical Leaders Congress in DC in November.

Stewart, along with about 3,500 additional attendees, enjoyed listening to many speeches including Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., also known as the Surgeon General; Dr. Connie Mariano, former White House Medical Unit Director and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, and hearing many miracle medical stories from first person perspectives. Stewart also observed a live laparoscopic surgery involving the removal of a large tumor from a woman’s uterus.

Stewart was honored to hear the Surgeon General’s words, which included motivational career advice.

“He was saying not to focus on one specific area in the medical field,” Stewart said. “He told us to keep our minds open and to not automatically rule anything out. He told us to consider everything before turning it away.”

Stewart and her family began coordinating fundraising events in November 2013 to help raise money for the trip. They held a bake sale at Tractor Supply in Calhoun, cooked a chili dinner for their church and set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for her first trip.

Along with help from their church family at Fellowship Baptist in Plainville and many family friends, Stewart raised the necessary funds in time. Stewart is asking for the community’s help again so that she may go to DC a second time.

While brainstorming different fundraising options, a fellow parent in DC suggested challenging the mayor to some sort of competition. Stewart and her mom were a bit skeptical at first.

“If I could kick the mayor’s butt in an archery competition, then I’d go for it,” Stewart said.

Stewart was on the archery team at Ashworth Middle, and her new set of bows could possibly lead her to ample fundraising opportunities and provide entertainment for the community. Mr. Palmer, are you up for the challenge?

In addition to the many relatives in her family history to have careers in the medical field, Stewart’s particular interests encircle around naturopathic and homeopathic medicines. She’s even a volunteer at Mother Nature’s Eden in Calhoun.

“I read books about it this summer and looked through my dad’s plant and medicine encyclopedias about home remedies.” Stewart said. “I’ve always wanted to look further into it. Laparoscopic surgeries are a great way to treat patients that is minimally invasive and I thought, ‘could I really do this? Is this really possible?’”

She already has plans to graduate high school, attend the University of Georgia for undergraduate and graduate studies and then attend the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in Loma Linda, Calif., which specializes in natural medicine.

All the while, Stewart is acquiring business cards in attempt to shadow at doctors’ offices in Calhoun and nearby towns during her spring and summer breaks from school.

“From the time she was three, she always wanted to be a veterinarian or be involved with medicine,” said Chris King, Stewart’s mom. “She’s always been an honor roll student and at the top of her class. She was the spelling bee champion last year for the county and went on to compete at regionals in Rome. She’s in the Warrior Academy, National Junior Honors Society and Beta Club. I’m very proud, and I love to brag on her.”

To donate online, go to www.gofundme.com/706xas or visit the Facebook group “Help Support Caitlin!!”

For more information about the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, visit www.FutureDocs.com or call 202-599-8442, x701.