Emersyn Kroymann, of Cedar Rapids, loves to dance.
However, when Emersyn learned that she needed spinal fusion surgery at just 11 years old to correct her scoliosis, she was scared that she may never dance again. "I did a lot of research and a lot of people didn't have as much mobility after the surgery," says Emersyn. "I was really worried."
When her surgery date of July 3, 2017, arrived, Emersyn anxiously headed to the recently opened University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital for a four-hour procedure with orthopedic surgeon Stuart Weinstein (72MD, 76R). The procedure involved placing two titanium rods and 21 screws around her spinal cord.
"She was so young at the time, and we didn't know how this would affect her life—especially her dancing," says Eric Kroymann, Emersyn's father. But after four days in the hospital, Emersyn headed home for six months of recovery and no physical activity.
"After I got home from the hospital, I was in bed most of the time, and I didn't have a lot of pain," says Emersyn, who now dances competitively in jazz, contemporary, and ballet. "I decided while I was recovering that I wanted to give back to the hospital because they were so amazing. I really wanted to help kids who were having the same surgery I did, so I started making bath bombs and bath salts for care packages."
Emersyn delivered her first care package at her six-week, post-surgery checkup and has since continued the charitable work through her nonprofit, Suds for Spinez. Along with the bath bombs and bath salts, the care packages are filled with little bears with back braces, books where the main character has scoliosis, and a description of Emersyn's story.
To date, 13-year-old Emersyn has made more than 30 care packages for UI Stead Family Children's Hospital patients. Because of her efforts, Emersyn was recently named a U.S. Cellular 16 Under 16 Future of Good recipient in a program that celebrates young humanitarians by amplifying the good they have done.
Emersyn—who was nominated by her older sister, Taryn—received $10,000 from U.S. Cellular and has split the prize between Suds 4 Spinez and UI Stead Family Children's Hospital. "We have had really great care at Iowa; the entire staff of doctors and nurses have been just wonderful," says Eric Kroymann. "We have benefited from the impact of others, so we wanted to do our part."