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The Lifeline

Bringing you the best local stories in and around our community.

These Are Our Shining Stars

Featured Photo from These Are Our Shining Stars

If Disney Dreamers & Doers are the best of the best among our local students, what do you call the cream of that crop? Meet Seminole County’s Disney Shining Stars, students chosen from among the district’s Dreamers & Doers who exemplify imagination at work.

Kristen Spennemann, 9
Lake Mary Preparatory School


After moving to Lake Mary two years ago, Kristen Spennemann wanted to give back to her new community. The result was her Smiles and Dreams project to collect school supply donations to benefit a grade school in her native Guatemala. Last school year, as a third grader at Lake Mary Prep, Kristen was able to help 150 children, and she delivered the supplies in person.

“I think it is important to give back to people who need help,” Kristen says. “Helping others makes me proud.”

Kristen’s teachers pitched in by requesting donations from pencil manufacturer Dixon Ticonderoga. So far, Kristen has collected nearly 3,000 pencils to distribute to the students. A local restaurant also collects used crayons left behind by children for Kristen’s project.

“We get boxes from them weekly,” says Kristen, who melts down broken crayons to make fresh coloring sticks for the children. She earns extra money by doing household chores and uses it to buy more supplies.

Kristen’s father, a corporate pilot, delivers boxes filled with donations to Guatemala when his work trips take him to the Central American country.

“This was completely her idea,” says Kristen’s mother, Lily, also a pilot. “The smiles on the children’s faces say it all. They were so happy to receive the supplies.”

To learn more, visit Kristen’s website at SmilesAndDreams.WordPress.com. To donate supplies, please email KikiSmilesAndDreams@gmail.com.

Kaitlyn Boyle, 13
Greenwood Lakes Middle School


This past summer, 13-year-old Kaitlyn Boyle did what most of her fellow middle schoolers did for their break – relaxed, traveled a bit, and, oh yes, rubbed elbows with biomedical engineers at the Food and Drug Administration.

Kaitlyn and her mother, Tina, were invited to testify at the FDA Focus on Spinal Deformities hearing about Kaitlyn’s experience with a new scoliosis treatment called VBT. (A full feature story about Kaitlyn and her journey is on page 72). Since Kaitlyn received the treatment more than two years ago, she has been passionate about sharing her experience with doctors, scientists, and especially other patients. She has tirelessly supported other children facing similar medical procedures through social media. Her advocacy work earned her an invitation to speak at the FDA.

“I was one of 10 patients who spoke and the only VBT patient,” Kaitlyn recalls. “The surgery is experimental and has not been approved yet. It’s kind of like putting braces on your back the way you would with your teeth. There’s far less recovery          time required.”

Kaitlyn developed a professional PowerPoint presentation for the event, and had lunch with a biomedical engineer.
“But the best part was meeting other patients,” Kaitlyn says.

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