Odessa teen had a giving heart

Odessa American Local News | LAUREN DRINKARD
Bethany Lewallen, 14, stretches rubber bands to fit on a board as she works with occupational therapy assistant Monica Dollar in December 2009 at the Permian Basin Rehabilitation Center. Bethany also served as the 2010 spokesperson for the Permian Basin Rehab Center, and her story resonated across the region.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story from November 2011 highlights how Bethany Lewallen always gave back – even on her own Sweet 16.
In MTV’s show My Super Sweet 16, viewers are introduced to spoiled rotten teenagers drenched in designer clothing and pursues, and screaming “Me! Me! Me!”

On the other end of that spectrum is Bethany Lewallen, whose parents are just grateful they can see her smile on her 16th birthday. In fact, they weren’t even sure they would get to see her 16th birthday.

“Every parent looks forward to their daughter turning 16 ... And those of us who have faith know we’re not guaranteed one moment. Each and every day is a blessing,” Michelle Lewallen, Bethany’s mother, said. “You do what moms do, and you do what dads do. It’s still your baby. Her heart is evident. Her faith and her courage and her compassion are all still evident, which lets us know that Bethany is still there.”

It started with headaches during the second grade and since that time, Bethany has endured seizures and loss of many bodily functions due to a progressive mitochondrial disorder called MELAS. Bethany’s prognosis is grim, but her family has risen to the challenge and cherishes each and every moment they have with her. Continue reading

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