All-American Girl
August 8, 2019
Southern Torch (3801 articles)
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All-American Girl

By Marla Jones, Managing Editor • marla@southerntorch.com

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — From day one, Tinsley Andrews has been a fighter. 

She was born a full month before her due date on December 8, 2004. Tinsley was born with a genetic condition known as kniest dysplasia. Among the symptoms were a cleft palate and weakened windpipe. The cleft palate caused serious problems, making it almost impossible for her to swallow. Due to this, she was sent to Children’s Hospital at just two weeks old. 

At less than one month old, she underwent fundoplication surgery, a procedure in which the upper curve of the stomach is wrapped around the esophagus and sewn into place in order to prevent food and stomach acid from backing up into the esophagus. Feeding tubes were inserted to ensure that Tinsley could begin to grow. 

At 10 months, she had her cleft palate repaired. 

“It was such a hard time,” said Patti Gilbert Carson, Tinsley’s mother. “It was hard on everyone. And I can’t imagine how hard it was on Tinsley. Thanks to the skill of the surgeons and staff at Children’s Hospital, Tinsley [was] soon able to eat, speak, laugh and play like other children her age.” 

Fast-forward to today, Tinsley is now 14 and in the 9th grade. She attended Plainview High School, where she served as the manager for the Plainview Varsity Volleyball team, before transferring to the Alabama School for the Blind (ASB) in Talladega after waking up with a detached retina. 

“I always felt like I was having to live in a bubble,” said Tinsley. “I decided to go to ASB because I felt it would benefit me to live independently and we are all the same. Now I don’t have to live in a bubble. We aren’t scared.” 

She participates in track and cheers for the wrestling team. While attending ASB, Tinsley has won Queen at the school’s Junior Miss ASB pageant, Harvest Festival Queen, and recently, received the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) All-American Cheerleader Award. When she grows up, she would like to be a pediatrician. 

This award gives her a bid to go to London, U.K. for the New Year’s Day parade. The school is not state funded, therefore, the price of the trip is $4,200. 

Tinsley has faced adversity through her young life. This opportunity would be a small reward for defeating the giants she has taken down since birth. If you would like to make a donation on behalf of Tinsley or to the cheer program, please contact pattigcarson@icloud.com. 

“This is hard to let her go,” said Carson. “But I feel like I need to let her spread her wings and fly.” 

Tinsley sums it up the best, “You just have to take life one day at a time” and as her friend says, “just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you aren’t a champion.”

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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