Faith leads to healing for Miss Wayland 2015
November 21, 2014
PLAINVIEW – When the judges’ decision was announced last Saturday, Nov. 15, at Wayland Baptist University’s Miss Wayland 2015 scholarship pageant, Kelsi Crawford was overcome with emotion. As she was crowned, Crawford couldn’t help but feel lucky and blessed, knowing she had come a long way from where she was a year ago – on an operating table.
Crawford grew up in Ranger, just off I-20 between Abilene and Weatherford. A typical young girl, she was full of life. In high school she was a cheerleader, the band’s drum major and class president for four years. She was involved in the PALS program, adopting her “Bulldog Buddy” in elementary school and visiting with her every week. She loved UIL academic competitions. She loved being president of the student council. And most of all, she loved to dance. She can’t tell you how or why she fell in love with dance … only that she did.
“I wanted to draw so badly, but it never worked out. I wanted to paint and do all of those things to, you know, express yourself. I never could do it,” Crawford said. “But I could dance.”
Crawford danced all through school. As high school was nearing an end, she didn’t want to give it up. She started teaching dance at a local studio and worked there for two years, completing her senior year of high school and a year at Ranger Junior College.
“I don’t know how I fell in love with it, it just happened. One day I just thought I can never give this up. I can never stop doing this,” she said.
But a birth defect threatened to end her dancing career.
Crawford was born with a tethered spinal cord. The spinal cord is meant to hang freely in the spinal canal. Some children, however, are born with a cord that is attached. Over time, the attached cord will stretch, causing nerve damage. There are a number of symptoms and results of a tethered spinal cord, not the least of which is debilitating pain.
It’s a pain Crawford knew all too well.
“Since I was a teenager I have had problems with my back and my nervous system,” Crawford said. “We didn’t know what it was. Every time I went to the doctor they didn’t know what was wrong. They didn’t know why I was hurting.”
Crawford and her family even came up empty after a trip to Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.
“They are supposed to be the best of the best and they had no idea what was wrong with me,” she said.
As someone who always liked to be in control, Crawford couldn’t control this and it led to a breaking point.
“I was at a football game my sophomore year (in high school). I was hurting so bad that my mom took me to the emergency room,” Crawford said. “I was crying because I was so upset that I was always going to be that way.”
It was then that she realized the only way through was to trust God.
“Finally, I realized that I don’t have control over this and the doctors don’t have control over this. Only God can fix it,” she said. “That’s when I finally let go and really let him take over.”
As she looks back, she knows that God began working in her life and leading her to recovery. Crawford was a Presidential Scholar at Ranger Junior College, meaning she worked as a student assistant to the president. One of her duties was to make recruiting trips for the school. Knowing she would eventually have to transfer, she began looking at the other schools attending the college fairs. At one event, Wayland’s recruiters approached her, making an impression.
“Usually, at everybody’s booth, they want you to come to them,” Crawford said. “What I noticed was that they reached out to me. There is a difference.”
Crawford set up a time to visit Wayland.
“I came up and I didn’t plan on making any big decisions,” she said. “By the end of the day, I put down my housing deposit. I was sold. I just loved it and everyone was so welcoming.”
Crawford tried out for the cheer and dance team and was selected. She came to Wayland, met her teammates and assimilated into university life. But she was still having problems. The pain in her back and problems with her nervous system got so bad that her coach sent her to a sports medicine doctor in Lubbock. He referred her to the neurological department at Covenant Health Systems. Her doctor there took one look at her MRI and noticed the tethered spinal cord.
Surprised that no one had ever diagnosed Crawford with a spinal cord issue he scheduled her for surgery at his first available time, Nov. 15, 2013, exactly a year before the Miss Wayland pageant.
Unfortunately, Crawford’s journey didn’t end with surgery. While in the hospital she contracted meningitis. She was also given a flu shot to which she had an allergic reaction. And in spite of it being noted that she was allergic to morphine, she was administered some and reacted to it as well.
“I got really sick,” Crawford said. “I stayed (in the hospital) a lot longer than I was supposed to, so I was really behind on all my stuff in school.”
Crawford thanks God that she was sent to Wayland where her professors worked with her to complete her assignments and not lose a semester. With her professors’ help, she was able to complete all her work, earning credit for her classes. She said that is when she realized that Wayland is “awesome.”
“They really care about you as an individual,” Crawford said. “People I didn’t even know were sending me stuff in the hospital and they were all worried about me.”
While the surgery has provided relief from the constant pain and will save her from any further problems, Crawford suffered permanent damage from her ordeal. Her reflexes are dead and she has permanent damage to her bladder. But she knows it could be so much worse.
“If I would not have had the surgery, who knows what would have happened?” she said. “And if I had not come to Wayland, I would not have found (the doctor). I know that is why God sent me here.”
Last Saturday, as she received the Miss Wayland crown, Crawford had come full circle. She was able to dance as her talent in the pageant and she hopes to continue dancing for the rest of her life. She also hopes to share her passion for dance in the future, owning and operating a dance studio for special-needs children, another of her passions. She will graduate with a degree in elementary and special education. But until that time, she is proud to represent her university.
“Winning Miss Wayland was very emotional for me. It was a year since my surgery and I didn’t think I would get to do anything like this after my surgery because I was in such bad shape,” she said.
“Winning Miss Wayland was just overwhelming.”