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Reasons To Smile: Five year old turns tragedy into triumph to help other kids

After suffering a traumatic brain injury, a girl from our area surprised her family & teachers with her willingness to help other kids going through a tough time.

PINE GROVE, Pa. — Oftentimes, out of tragedy comes triumph.

For Hayden Strouphauer of Pine Grove, her mom says it all came about after an unthinkable accident at home that happened when Hayden was only three.

“So, January 10th, 2019, Hayden had her dresser and TV fall on her and she was life-flighted to Geisinger in Danville where she was diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury with no frontal lobe activity. Over the next two months, she learned to walk again, had a lot of cognitive impairments, a lot of personality differences and she's been thriving ever since. Thankfully, we're very lucky,” said Lindsay Strouphauer, Hayden’s mom. “But we want to bring a lot of attention to the younger kids who are having brain injuries, not just in sports and things like that, but things that can happen around the home.”

Credit: Lindsay Strouphauer

Now, this amazing kindergartner is using her unimaginable brain injury to educate and help others in the community. Hayden’s family decided to use the January anniversary of her accident to raise cash for a special project at her school in Schuylkill County.

“And that's why we chose the Hope for Kids fund,” said Lindsay.

A fund that was initially started this past fall to help two fellow schoolmates battling cancer.

“If they are sick, we can help them,” said Hayden.

Hope for Kids got off the ground thanks to teachers at Pine Grove Area.

It’s where five-year-old Hayden ending up selling the keychains she made in the shape of awareness ribbons. Her teachers were blown away.

Ryan asked, “What does it mean to you as an educator to see kids who are five years old really step up to help other youngsters?”

“When you become an educator, that's your goal, is to make sure that these kids know everything. It's not always just about education, but it's about being a good person and taking that those character traits and being able to apply it into the world,” said Shandra Allar, Hayden’s kindergarten teacher.

As for the $65 Hayden raised on her own, it all goes toward the overall Hope for Kids fund that continues to grow at Pine Grove Elementary, thanks to other fundraisers like chicken barbecues.

Money that’ll be there to help students and families going through a tough time.

“We wanted to be able to help them for any kind of medical expenses that they might need help with or any just any kind of help. We wanted to show them that we love all our students and we want to be there for the kiddos in sickness and in health,” said Donna Medeiros, a Pine Grove Area Elementary School teacher.

As for how Hayden’s health is today, her mom says she sometimes struggles on occasion with balance and her vision, but knows she’s in good hands with the teachers at Pine Grove Area Elementary School.

Hayden’s kindergarten teacher, Shandra Allar, even took a specialized concussion training course in order to recognize the signs of brain injury and brain overload, all to help Hayden reach her full potential this school year.

Every January, on her brain injury anniversary, Hayden picks a different organization to help.

The first year of her accident, she donated coloring books and other items to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. This year, it was Hope For Kids Fund in the Pine Grove area.