Today, Taylor was honored for her volunteerism to her country and troops as she received a STAR AWARD today in front of 600 people. There were thousands of nominations, only 10 individuals won and Taylor was one of them. Taylor was the first to come up and as they talked about Taylor and how the Marines rallied around her, there were gasps in the audience. She proudly walked up to get her award to a standing ovation.
Here is what was written in The Kalamazoo Gazette today:
GIRL IGNORES ADVERSITY IN EFFORTS TO SUPPORT TROOPS
By Emily Monacelli
Special to the Gazette
At 13 years old, Taylor Batten has dedicated her time to showing U.S. military personnel that she supports them.
The Three Rivers teen, winner of this year's Youth Volunteer STAR Award, sends cards, letters, e-mail messages and care packages to soldiers who are stationed overseas. She attends the funerals of fallen soldiers as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.
She has visited wounded Marines at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Recently, Taylor held a blanket drive for the troops in Iraq and collected nearly 150 blankets to ship out.
"It just popped into my mind that really anything that the troops get from home helps out a lot with their psychological well-being, and, believe it or not, it gets really cold out there," said the Mendon Junior High School student. "It was just a good idea and it was fun to do."
With all her volunteer activities, Taylor does not seem to be a typical 13-year old girl. Her health problems also set her apart. She has Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal condition characterized by a partially or completely missing second sex chromosome. As a result of her condition, Taylor has impaired visual-spatial functioning, chronic fatigue syndrome and scoliosis, has had a number of sinus surgeries and heart surgery, and is very small for her age.
The STAR Award is not the first time Taylor has been honored for her efforts. In October, she was named an honorary U.S. Marine Private First Class and an honorary state-ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders. That December, she was promoted to honorary U.S. Marine Sergeant.
Her volunteer activities have not been limited by her illness. She said she draws on her Marine courage to deal with it.
"It's always been in me that I want to do something," she said. "The Marine Corps motto is Honor, Courage, and Commitment. I feel that I need to do everything I can. I just feel like it's the right thing to do."
Currently, Taylor is raising money for Hope For the Warriors, an organization that collects money to help wounded military members and their families. Her health condition prohibits her from ever joining the Marines as an active member, but by volunteering for a cause she loves, Taylor can still be involved said her mother Cathy Batten.
"She's looking outside of herself," her mother said. "All this help that she's doing, she's helping others, but in the long run we think it's helping her."