Miss Cahaba Valley Teen addresses the city of Pelham

Published 11:47 am Thursday, December 21, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – With a tiara atop her head and a sash reading “Miss Cahaba Valley Teen” across her chest, Madelyn Rasco addressed the Pelham City Council at their meeting on Monday, Dec. 18.

“I wanted to share with you guys something that is really important to me,” Rasco said. “It’s more than just a girl in a pageant trying to tell you about an idea she has. This is really my life, and I feel like it could impact the community and the city of Pelham in an amazing way.”

Rasco is a native of Pelham and won the title of “Miss Cahaba Valley Teen” on Nov. 5 for her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from the Broadway musical, “Les Miserables.” However, Rasco is more than a beauty pageant queen, she is the founder of the Following Faith foundation, a nonprofit organization created to help bring awareness to Spinal Cord defects such as spina bifida.

“Through the Miss America’s Teen Organization, the MATO, I am given the opportunity to share my platform and advocate for what I truly believe will change this world for the better,” Rasco said. “I joined this program not just for the sisterhood but also to bring hope to the spina bifida community.”

Rasco was inspired to advocate for the spina bifida community by her Aunt Faith, who lived for 34 years with the condition before passing away in 2020 due to complications from the disease. 

“My Aunt, Trinity Faith Hope, was born with the most severe form of spina bifida,” Rasco said.

At the meeting, Rasco went on to discuss both the medical definition of spina bifida and stressed why it is so essential for more significant funding and advocacy for the disease. 

“Spina bifida is the most common permanently disabling birth defect of the central nervous system that is compatible with life,” Rasco said. “It affects four out of every 10,000 live births in the U.S. and it happens when the neural elements in the spinal column do not close. That typically happens before a woman even knows that she is pregnant, between the 21st and 28th day of gestation.”

Rasco’s charity has successfully raised more than $1,000 in the short time since its inception.

“All our proceeds go to the Spina Bifida Association of Alabama, as well as the Children’s Hospital spina bifida clinics,” Rasco said.  “Children’s of Alabama and UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) have one of the largest programs in the country with more than 850 patients and a lifetime care model.”

Rasco concluded her presentation by expressing her desire to hold a Walk-N-Roll-Athon, an event to raise awareness and support for spina bifida patients, in Pelham City Park. Noting that she already has the support of various medical groups in Birmingham along with Pelham High’s student government, Rasco requested the support of the city of Pelham in her endeavor.

“With the city of Pelham’s support, we could pull off an amazing event and help change lives for the better,” Rasco said.

City council members proceeded to thank Rasco for her presentation and praised her for her initiative in putting together a nonprofit organization for an issue she is passionate about. Additionally, they offered support to Rasco in anything she might need to help put a Walk-N-Roll-Athon together. 

More information about Rasco and her nonprofit can be found at Following-faith.org.