NORMAN — Sydney Medley was a little girl who loved to dance, do gymnastics, ride horses and loved animals. She also loved helping others, so it only seemed fitting that her cousin, Adam Graham, dedicate a foundation in her honor.
Celebrating two years of incorporation this month, Sydney’s Smiles Foundation is a nonprofit that assists children and families in Oklahoma with serious medical conditions by providing medical equipment to those families in need. It is estimated that the foundation has helped 20 families. But Graham hoped to help even more.
Sydney was born on Oct. 13, 2000, to Mike and Kerri Medley. She seemed like the typical, outgoing little girl and attended Northmoor Elementary School. Then in October 2007, Sydney became very ill.
“It started when she woke up one morning pretty much paralyzed. That was four years before she had passed,” Graham said.
Several tests and many hospital visits only resulted in doctors never diagnosing Sydney’s illness. She died Sept. 2, 2010.
“She was perfectly normal before she got sick. She used to do gymnastics and she danced. She was an energetic, fun girl. She liked to ride horses,” Graham said. “Her body was shutting down, she couldn’t see, eat or walk.”
Through Sydney’s journey, Graham realized that there were families with children in desperate need of medical equipment that either couldn’t afford it or their insurance had capped out.
“I wanted to start something to help these families,” Graham said. “It helps take a lot of the worries off of them. They don’t have to worry about buying a $10,000 hospital bed. It also helps the child not worry as much.”
While in Nancy Holt’s entrepreneurship class at Moore Norman Technology Center, Graham, at the time a Moore High School junior, had the idea to form the nonprofit Sydney’s Smiles.