By Olivia Harris, Senior, Shaler Area High School
When Australian delegate Emmah Money graced the stage at the One Young World 2012 Summit, the entire audience noticed her pink dress, eloquence, and the beautiful smile across her face. No one was able to predict the internal struggles and emotional pain that she was about to publicly present.
“How would you make your mark in the world if you were given just twelve more short years to live?” That is the question that Money posed to the audience this morning at the Health Plenary Session for her fellow delegates.
At just 25 years old, the model, author, and motivational speaker knows all too well the harsh realities of living with Cystic Fibrosis. She was adopted a few months after birth by loving parents who committed to raising her for a bright future, regardless of the fact that she was diagnosed with the life threatening, chronic lung disease. She speaks fondly of her mother and father, stating that they taught her to never forget that other people throughout the world are also dealing with internal and external disabilities. “No matter how bad you think your life is, there is always someone else who is worse
off than you.” It was evident that she does not allow self-pity to impede her advocacy.
Seven years ago, Emmah was selected to represent Australia as the National Youth Ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis. With this new title, she also took on new responsibilities, and she set out to encourage others to pursue their goals, never viewing Cystic Fibrosis as a barrier to achievements.
Emmah wants to make not just a difference in her own country, but a global difference. She strives to make others aware of Cystic Fibrosis as an invisible disability that causes those affected great internal pain. Emmah was asked how CF affects her, to which she replied, “How doesn’t it?” She explained to the audience that her disability is draining and exhausting every day, but that, regardless of the challenges she faces, she has to remember who she is and who she wants to be, and continue to be that.
In 2010, Emmah lost a very close friend to the same illness. This brought for her 8 months of pain, as her health caused some unexpected difficulties. When she returned to work, she was inspired to apply for a grant which she was fortunate to receive, and won $10,000 for her work with Westpac, all of which was donated to Cystic Fibrosis research.
After losing her friend, Emmah confessed that it was hard for her to remain passionate all the time. She is still constantly proving that she can make a difference. She was recently awarded the Woman of Influence 2012 award through Westpac for her outstanding work, and she excitedly announced, “I want to be a leader. If you are determined and passionate, anything can happen.”
Emmah encouraged the audience to always be learning. “Don’t wait for good things to come to you. You need to put yourself out there”, she says, “I’d rather have a list of to do’s than a list of impossibles”.