I was 14 and thought I was invincible. On May 14, 1988, I found out I wasn’t. In a heartbeat, I went from a tired, but happy teenager who had spent the day at an amusement park with my friend, Emillie’s church youth group, to a terrified child trying to escape from a raging inferno.
I’ve been a burn survivor for the majority of my life. Over the years, I’ve been in many scenarios where the person I was talking to found themselves at a loss for words…or just chose the wrong words.
When people identify how you look – something out of your control — as generically bad, it is hard not to think...am I bad? Is this who I am? Is this how everyone perceives me?
In September, Phoenix Society launched the “Burns Are Beautiful” campaign. Featured here, survivors share their stories of resilience, acceptance, and beauty with the tag #burnsarebeautiful.
The Newtons’ story is an important reminder that whatever challenges we face, renewal is greater than regret. Every member of the Newton family struggled in a different way, but they each embarked on a journey of recovery and renewal. In 2009, Braegan and Kade were injured in a fire. After 3 months in the hospital, the Newton family returned home and tried to pick up where they left off. But they lived hours away from their doctor, and the family struggled without support.
Kechi Okwuchi, America's Got Talent finalist, shares her #burnsarebeautiful story. "That memory signifies one of the most meaningful moments of my life as a burn survivor because I realized something important: "The real Kechi shines through her scarred exterior every day, and she is strong and beautiful."”
Mark and Steve Joyner have shared in each other’s lives since birth. In 2016, the twins shared in each other’s healing too. Six years after Steve’s burn injury, Mark joined him at Phoenix World Burn Congress for the first time.
Burn survivor and blogger Indira Husic adds her voice to the "Burns Are Beautiful" campaign. She built a positive relationship with herself through adventure, forgiveness, and self-care.
Michelle Valladares shares how she committed to a healthy lifestyle after her burn injury, a commitment that has given her a lot in return.
Today, Howard is intentional in looking back and leveraging his past to build a better future for burn survivors everywhere.
After his burn injury, Evan Duran faced his fears and achieved his goal of becoming a professional photographer.
James Bosch explores his parallel journeys of coming out and accepting his differences as a gay man and a burn survivor.
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