If Grace Simpson had decided to cruise through her time as an upperclassman at Sacred Heart School in Morrilton, there aren’t many who would blame her. The senior was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri heading into junior year, a condition that produces too much cerebral fluid.
“Having too much cerebral fluid in my head puts pressure on the optic nerve of my eyes which can cause me to go blind at any time,” she said as casually as describing a mosquito bite. “I go up to Children’s Hospital (in Little Rock) every three months or so and see a specialist there and I take medication for it.”
“It’s pretty much a waiting game. If my vision starts to get really bad or they feel that I could go blind then I’ll be rushed into surgery for it, but until then it’s just pretty much trying to get it to go down on its own.”
The condition has done nothing to slow down her participation in school and church activities. Simpson is a member of Key Club, Beta Club and student council. She’s also a member of the Lady Rebels state-qualifying softball team.
On top of that, she’s the leading force in the parish CYM group as well as having been active at the diocesan level.
The two ministries are linked by her own powerful Search #144 experience.
“Search was the turning point in my faith. Up until that point, I’d ‘been there’ but I hadn’t been living it,” she said. “After that weekend it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I see God in everything I do now.’ He’s here, he’s present and he’s willing to help me even through all the awful things I’ve done and failed at. He’s willing to forgive me and help me rise up again.”
This epiphany lit a fire in Simpson to lead others to Christ via her parish youth ministry and by returning to Search as a leader.
“These people I know, they’re as close to God as I know they can be. But I also know these people need to be pushed because they have a deeper faith than they can reach,” she said. “All I want to do is help them because I know they love God just as much as I do. They just need help getting there. It’s such an amazing thing.”
As she leaves one chapter of her life behind and prepares to begin her nursing studies at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, she’s grateful for the relationships she’s made since entering Sacred Heart as a kindergartner.
“(Sacred Heart has) meant I have a family outside the people I see on the weekends,” she said. “These are the people I can come to with problems and I can trust, knowing they’re not going to go around and talk behind my back, especially the adults and my teachers. They’re some of the best people I’ve ever known. I honestly don’t even know how to put it in words how much I appreciate them.”
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