ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — One young local girl has a really big part in the construction of the Major League Soccer stadium in downtown St. Louis. Among hundreds of workers, dozens of pieces of heavy equipment, and piles of dirt, you’ll see “Stella” helping set steel.
“She’s been a pretty important part of the project,” said Sonny Kamper, Superintendent for the Civil Team for “MAK” (Mortenson|Alberici|L. Keeley), the companies contracted to build the St. Louis MLS stadium. “We like having her here and think it’s pretty cool.”
The enormous purple lift is named after a little sweet girl, Stella.
“She is now five and a half and we would consider her a medically fragile child who deals with seizures in addition to a myriad of other health concerns,” said Kacie Craig, Stella’s mom.
Stella has a severe epilepsy disorder caused by a spontaneous genetic mutation.
“There are about 450 kids worldwide that have a mutation on the SCN8A gene but Stella’s is 100 percent unique to her,” said Craig. “Stella has no head control, very little leg and arm control. She can’t sit on her own. She doesn’t roll over. She’s non-verbal.”
But she does have a pretty great family, including a grandpa named Greg.
“Stella’s grandpa, Greg, has worked for us for 15 years,” said Levi Dawson, President of Chase Co. Rentals. “He’s been a major part in helping us get where we’re at, supporting us, he would do anything for us, so it’s kind of a way for us to give back to him and his family.”
Chase Co., a heavy equipment rental company, is based in Sullivan where Stella’s grandparents live. The company wanted to raise awareness and funds for SCN8A, so they ordered a huge lift painted purple. The color represents epilepsy awareness, and it was only right to name it after the 5-year-old.
“The idea behind that was to lift Stella up,” said Dawson.
“It just meant the world to us, to have such a small business have such a big heart for our family. It made a huge difference,” said Craig. “Often times your days are filled with doctor’s appointments and therapies and hard conversations and very difficult life and death choices, almost daily, that a lot of times you feel very alone and isolated and so to have someone reach out and say ‘We want to do this for you and your family,’ it was just huge. Absolutely huge.”
Then, one day, the crew building the MLS stadium stumbled upon Stella’s story.
“I thought it would be super cool to have her on site for such a high profile project and try to help the family out as much as we could so reached out to Chase Co., through United Rentals, we all came together with the help of ‘MAK’ and City SC and made it happen.”
So, now “Stella” is on-site, literally building a part of St. Louis history.
“Stella is here hard at work every single day and so the awareness that we are generating, we are proud to support,” said Khalia Collier, VP of Community Relations for St. Louis CITY SC.
“I’ve had people who are on the actual site and they send pictures through Facebook and say ‘We saw Stella today.’ It’s also very heartwarming that right now it’s in St. Louis since all of her doctors and specialists are at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.”
A spokesperson for the soccer team that will play here shared this message for Stella:
Stella, we’re proud of you. We’re excited to support you and we can’t wait to host you at St. Louis CITY SC so you can experience your first game because you’re so strong and you’re amazing. Keep fighting
And Stella’s family has this message for the world:
“Sometimes when you see children that can’t speak and some people might think they are not aiding to community, but Stella has shown us that unconditional love and I’m glad that everyone can see that she is worth having on this earth. We’re just so thankful,” said Craig.
Stella – the little girl softening hearts, building up our future, and making St. Louis proud.
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