By Gabi Burleson
My hero is my best friend Taylor Rayne. Taylor is my hero because she went through a lot of hardships in her life, but she kept on fighting. Taylor was born with Holt Oram Syndrome, which is a birth defect that causes abnormally developed bones and heart problems. With her HOS came a ventricular septal defect (VSD) which is a hole in the septum between the lower chambers of the heart. The VSD is extremely painful and hard to live with. I met Taylor when I was about 12 years old over Facebook, and we became best friends. Soon after we started talking, she came to visit me in Philly all the way from Ireland, and even though the elevation from flight put her in pain, she fought through it like she always did. HOS is a difficult defect to live with because it causes a lot of pain and problems with everyday life. Most children born with HOS don't make it passed a couple of weeks, but even as a baby Taylor fought to stay alive. Taylor struggled to do many things that others did with ease. She struggled to make herself breakfast in the morning, struggled to dress herself and do her hair, and struggled to take showers because of the abnormally developed bones in her hands, but she still managed to get through every day. Taylor did volunteer work almost every day, either at animal shelters, or nursing homes, or anything else she could help with because she loved helping others more than anything else. By the time I had met her, she had been diagnosed with HOS for almost 16 years. That's 16 entire years of every day struggle, yet she smiled every day. I first met Taylor right after my mother had died, and even with everything she was going through, she still managed to help me. Sadly, in February of 2013, Taylor passed away from the disease that had put her through so much. But still to this day, she's my hero for everything she had been through and everything she did for others.