PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. -- If the new year has a theme, maybe it should be resilience: bouncing back from adversity. This week's FOX 4 young achiever knows it well; she's made it her message and now her mission.
FOX 4 first introduced you to 14-year-old Claire Tietgen about a year-and-a-half ago. Now in eighth grade, Claire's grown up dealing with her own developmental disabilities, and with kids at school who bullied her over them. It almost overpowered her, to the point she considered suicide. But with her parents’ help, she found her own ways to power through, to bounce back. She calls it, resilience.
“You can choose to have a good day or a bad day, it`s the way you look at it, the way you wake up in the morning. I do,” she explained.
Claire first pushed ahead using sports. She won 14 gold medals in Jiu Jitsu. She won three state powerlifting championships and broke records. She joined her middle school's wrestling team. She won the Children's Mercy and Win for KC Youth athlete of the year.
She also started a non-profit group to help other kids get fit. And the more she shared her story the more she realized how many others struggle too. She wanted more of them to hear the message.
“It`s just to help kids going through what I went through,” she said.
She's turned her message into a mission, and started a talk show and website.
And as she shared stories, people started paying attention, from Hollywood stars to professional athletes. Her work has opened some big doors from Disney to Fox Sports. She interviews celebrities about their own adversities and how they practice resilience. They share their stories with her and she shares them to help other kids.
“When I first noticed I was bullied I didn`t understand it`s okay to talk about it. I`d have liked to known all those famous people, okay, they were bullied, they got through it. Maybe I can do the same,” Claire said.
Look for big things from Claire in this new year. She's already been invited to interview celebrities at the Indianapolis 500 and the country music awards. The U.S. Department of Education has invited her to a congressional luncheon.
She`s working with celebrity nutrition coach and author Haley Pomeroy. She`s the youth CEO of the Great Plains SPCA. She plans to practice what she preaches: hope, strength, resilience.
Claire started a new semester Wednesday at Indian Woods Middle School. If you'd like to share your own story of resilience, she'd love to hear from you, contact her through her website.