Feb. 25, 2013
/PRNewswire/ -- Third-grader
's teachers had never heard her speak -- until two days ago, when the Lone Oak Elementary School student wrapped up the voting in a national video contest she had entered with a comment about her effort.
Sarah suffers from a severe anxiety disorder called "selective mutism" but when she entered the Scotties Facial National "Trees Rock" Video Contest, things began to change, says her mom, Melissa. "This was a contest that Sarah felt passionate about. When we got the call this week about the judging, Sarah marched over to the phone and spoke into it, saying 'We have an update for Team Sarah -- WE WON!'" (One of the tools Sarah uses for therapy is a phone, which she speaks into without anyone on the other end.) But this call was different. Scotties was calling to tell her that, after a month of online voting and nearly 100,000 votes from the public,
for her school and
Sarah's mom, Melissa credits this breakthrough to the confidence Sarah has gained through the "Trees Rock" video contest, in which 3
, and 5
graders were challenged to create a short video about the importance of trees in our lives. During the voting period, it truly was a "Team Sarah" mentality in
, 60 miles east of
. As the smallest market out of all the top 12 finalists,
came together with a "don't mess with
" attitude as Principal,
recalls. "There is a real alliance between the school and the community in
. We had students who graduated 20 years ago were voting for her."