December 25, 2010 11:38:00 PM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
Very few 4-year-old girls have a designer bracelet named after them. But, few little girls are exactly like Waverly Glenn of Columbus.
Born in 2006 at 27 weeks and about 2 pounds, the daughter of Marca and Chris Glenn also had spina bifida, which is characterized by the incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord. Waverly''s first precarious four and one-half months were spent in a neonatal intensive care unit in Jackson.
"The spina bifida was bad enough, but being premature, too, made it harder on her," said Marca, owner of The Purple Elephant gift shops in Columbus and Starkville. Waverly had an actual hole in her back that was inoperable until doctors could get her weight up to at least 3 to 3 1/2 pounds. Because her lungs didn''t develop, she was on oxygen until she was about 18 months old.
Love and pearls
The brave youngster has already overcome more obstacles than many adults have to face. And that''s one of the reasons fine jewelry designer Ronaldo created the Waverly bracelet. The idea originated with Marca''s mother, Faye Drewry, who moved to Columbus soon after her granddaughter''s birth. Faye manages the gift shops so Marca can care for Waverly.
Ronaldo''s jewelry is carried by The Purple Elephant. Faye recalled, "I told him I''d like a bracelet made just for Waverly; at the time she was going to be 3 years old her next birthday, and I wanted three pearls, her birthstone, with gold swirled around them."
The designer based in Indiana didn''t hesitate.
"You can''t pick her up that it doesn''t melt your heart," he said of Waverly. "With art, there is a certain harmony with nature, God and Earth, so if you''re a true artist and you see one of God''s angels who needs help, what kind of world would it be if nobody said, ''I''ll help''?"
Ronaldo was in Columbus in early December to present one of his youngest "clients" with her second bracelet, a larger version of the first, now that she''s 4.
"She loves it," Marca said, her voice lit by a smile. "I guess because we''ve put jewelry on her from the start, she thinks you''re always supposed to have three or four bracelets on."
The jewelry piece that started out as a loving grandmother''s idea is having a wider impact. Ronaldo initially made more, to be carried just in The Purple Elephant, even in small children''s sizes. Since then, other regional stores have asked to sell it. In 2011, the Waverly bracelet will be distributed nationwide. The designer, as well as The Purple Elephant, donate a portion of the proceeds annually to the Spina Bifida Foundation and related organizations.
"We never know which dollar might be the magic dollar, the one that might find a cure or help somebody," Ronaldo said.
Waverly has made progress, her mother reports.
"She walks with a little walker, and has special braces on her legs and ankles. We do physical therapy and speech therapy; they work with her on fine motor skills and trying to help strengthen her legs," Marca shared. Waverly also benefits from hippotherapy, therapeutic horseback riding, at the Elizabeth A. Howard Therapeutic Riding and Activity Center in West Point.
Her smiles are uplifting to everyone she encounters, including Ronaldo, whose visits to Columbus she enjoys.
"I''ve met thousands of people; my client list goes on and on," he said. "But one thing I''ve realized everybody has in common, we have 24 hours. What we do with the time is up to us. If we choose wisely and help other people, we''re wealthier than when we started."
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.