Recently, another huge milestone for alopecia youth has come to NAAF in the form of Leah Hayes, who won Sports Kid Of The Year (SKOTY) at Sports Illustrated Kids. The award goes to kids who have shown exceptional sports talent.
Here’s what Sports Illustrated has to say…
Leah Hayes wins. A lot. The 13-year-old swimmer almost never loses when she races near her hometown of Sugar Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She owns six national age-group records, two of which she set this year. In some longer local events, she laps her opponents. Winning fuels her. “Who doesn’t love winning?” she says.
But as much as she loves winning, she hates seeing other people down. After a victory, Leah will often swim over to a competitor who is taking the loss hard and console her. Officials tell her coach how impressive Leah’s sportsmanship is. And she wants to make others better. Her relay times are sometimes faster than her individual ones.
There was a period, however, when Leah wasn’t so confident. When she was six, she began to suffer from alopecia, a disease that causes hair loss. After struggling with its effects, she now embraces her look—and uses her success in the pool to spread a message: “Don’t let anything hold you back. Be confident in everything you do.” Her ability to win races makes her a great swimmer. Her ability to do it with grace and positivity makes her the 2018 SportsKid of the Year.
This story appeared first at sikids.com.