A Role Model: From Wannaklot Camper to Scholarship Recipient, Volunteer, and Advisory Board Member
When Chelsee N. was seven years old, she had a nosebleed at a friend’s house. Her friend’s mother was a nurse at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and recommended to Chelsee’s mom that she should be tested for a bleeding disorder because of her frequent nosebleeds. Chelsee was soon diagnosed with Platelet Storage Pool Disease (SPD). After she was diagnosed, she started attending Camp Wannaklot, the only camp in Georgia that provides children with bleeding disorders the opportunity to enjoy a traditional camp experience. At camp, she instantly became friends with another girl with SPD, giving them both the ability to relate to each other and later share experiences with each other such as heavy menstrual cycles, nose bleeds, and even random bruising while going through puberty. Years down the road, Chelsee was able to hear firsthand from her friend what to expect during childbirth and family planning. Chelsee was always curious about the outcome for the many different stages of life, and it helped to have someone to ask who had experienced it firsthand. Chelsee attended Camp Wannaklot every year until she was old enough to go back and volunteer as a camp counselor. It was important to Chelsee to give back and lead by example. “I think that leading by example is very important. It makes it easier for others to hear my story and for me to hear others’ stories, so that we can relate to each other, ask questions, and see how others in the community are managing their lives while having a bleeding disorder. It helps give them hope,” she stated.
Chelsee was also a John W. Youtsey Memorial Scholarship recipient. The John W. Youtsey Memorial Scholarship provides financial assistance to Hemophilia of Georgia (HoG) clients who are motivated and talented but lack the resources to achieve their educational goals. Chelsee was driven and worked full-time while going to school, however, she still carried the financial burden of books and other school supplies needed to succeed in her degree program. “The scholarship really helped because it covered tuition for me and that allowed me to focus on getting the materials I needed to successfully complete the courses I was taking.” Chelsee graduated from Clayton State University with her Master’s Degree in Strategic Leadership Development. She previously received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Kennesaw State University. The scholarship allowed Chelsee to obtain the education necessary to get a job that allows her to continue to give back to others and she now works as a Community Outreach Manager for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. “I just think that people need to be able to see examples of those who have been through similar experiences and challenges and how they persevered. There are others with my condition that are now able to look at me as an example of what they can do with their life.”
Chelsee is a steadfast supporter who is involved with HoG as a volunteer and advocate and serves on the Georgia Hemophilia Advisory Board. The board’s purpose is to foster policies and make recommendations that enable people with bleeding disorders to get access to needed therapies and medication. The board also helps to educate policy makers about bleeding disorders, with the hope that advocating for the bleeding disorder community will be easier. Her advice to anyone with a bleeding disorder is to “Never give up on your overall goal for your life just because of the obstacles and the challenges you may face with having a bleeding disorder. Sometimes life can be very difficult and gets harder to manage but take every day one day at a time. Try not to give up—there is hope. They are working on a cure but until that happens just try to make a difference within the community, because every little bit helps.” Learn more about volunteering with Hemophilia of Georgia.