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Riley Champion Check In: Lexi Fuchs

Lexi Fuchs

The first thing I remember when waking up from my transplant at age 11 was the intense new sensation of being able to feel and hear a heartbeat in my ears. I was terrified, and convinced the new heart was too big for my body. For weeks after, I wasn’t myself. If it wasn’t for Cassie, my art therapist, I don’t know how long it would have taken to get my feelings straightened out. She helped me express what I was feeling, and we ended up writing and illustrating a book that told the story of my two hearts. Through creating the book, I saw my feelings all laid out. It helped me to deal with my underlying grief. Even though I received the amazing gift that was my new heart, I was grieving the loss of my old one. It was a part of me for so long and I felt so different afterward that it scared me. Not only did this program provide me with tools I needed to allow me to cope with what I had gone through, but I truly feel this experience sparked my passion for mental health and is what led me to my path now in studying psychology and mental health counseling.

A little over a year after my transplant, I was selected as a 2017 Riley Champion. Being a Riley Champion was one of the most valuable things I have gotten the honor to be part of. It was being a Champion that taught me how to advocate for myself and others, which I now take with me into my role as president of NAMI at Indiana State University, a student organization that provides advocacy and support for students struggling with mental health problems. It was through being a Champion that I learned how to be confident (or brave in the absence of confidence), which I have used to carry myself every day since. The memories I have and the connections I’ve made because of that experience are priceless, and I would not be even remotely the same person I am today without them.

People often ask me if I wish I was born different – or often in society’s eyes – normal. My answer always has and always will be no. I would not be who I am now if not for my experiences with Riley Hospital. They have saved me; they have shaped me. You grow through what you go through, and I hope to inspire other Riley kids to appreciate this part of their journey in becoming exactly who they were meant to be.

Lexi Fuchs

Riley Champion

Riley kid Lexi Fuchs from Roachdale served as a 2017 Riley Champion Presented by Kroger. Lexi currently attends Indiana State University and is studying psychology and mental health counseling.