Taylor was in the Kalamazoo Gazette today.
She is a fighter, giving back
Friday, May 18, 2007
By Sarita Chourey
Thirteen-year-old Taylor Batten can say she shot a machine gun.
Well, a simulator, anyway.
During a week at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the Mendon girl ate meals with Marines at the chow hall, watched a graduation ceremony for the School of Infantry, and zapped enemies as they charged her on a dark screen.
Her goal, she said, is ``just being able to help the guys.''
The Mendon Junior High student had been invited to the base with her mother, while undergoing medical tests at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland and visiting the Naval Medical Center. Taylor has Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal condition that required five sinus surgeries and heart surgery, and left her with chronic-fatigue syndrome, scoliosis and impaired visual-spatial functioning.
Taylor's efforts to comfort wounded Marines last month at Camp Lejeune was good for both the veterans and for her daughter, her mother said.
``It was hard for me to tell who was more excited, Taylor or these guys,'' Cathy Batten said. ``You could just see their whole demeanor change as well.
``Their life right now is dedicated to their wounds, doctors visits, physical therapy. They're not well enough to be back with the guys. They're not well enough to be at home.''
Taylor, who is small for her age, has also volunteered in other ways to help injured veterans. She attends funerals, sends cards and care packages to soldiers stationed abroad. She has also held a blanket drive and sent 150 blankets to soldiers in Iraq.
In October, she was named an honorary U.S. Marine Private First Class and an honorary state-ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders, an association of motorcyclists who honor fallen soldiers. She was promoted to honorary U.S. Marine sergeant and, most recently, to honorary gunnery sergeant.
``I just really feel like I need to help out,'' Taylor said.
That's why she's started a collection to raise funds for ``Hope for the Warriors.'' The program, initiated by the wife of an injured veteran, provides medical supplies and other support for the wounded.
Taylor has placed collection containers at a restaurant, gas stations and a bank in Mendon. Donations may be sent to Gunnery Sgt. Taylor Batten; P.O. Box 350; Mendon, MI 49072. Checks should be made out to ``Hope for the Warriors.''