She's organized a Folsom community toy drive so that young Shriner patients can be comforted with stuffed animals, blankets and toys as she has been when undergoing surgeries.
Talya-Ann ran into a campfire as toddler, suffering burns as deep as her cartilage in her left hand, leg and foot. She spent a week and a half at the UC Davis Medical Center burn unit and then over the years, underwent three surgeries at Shriners Hospital. If being badly injured and in the hospital can be a good experience, it was for Talya-Ann.
"They're so awesome," said the 17-year-old. ""They always make you feel so good."
Talya-Ann said the surgeries and care has allowed her to participate in competitive cheerleading without self-consciousness.
"It's made me more of a determined person, it helped motivate me," she said. "Without Shriners, I couldn't have opened up my hand."
Talya-Ann said she started thinking about doing something for other patients several years ago and then just came to the realization, she needed to just do it. So she contacted Shriners for its approval, and enlisted school administrators. Folsom Lake High school, Folsom High School, Vista del Lago High School and Folsom Middle School came onboard, allowing her put posters around school and collection containers on campus for the toy drive. It has been a week-long campaign, also helped by signage donated by Sign Chef and a local businessman donating the collection barrels.
"I didn't know how hard it is," said Talya-Ann. "I didn't know it was going to be so much work ... but it's made me happy."
Talya-Ann said her mom has been a big part of it, helping her spread the word with a Facebook page and driving her around Folsom to put flyers at local businesses.
The drive wraps up Friday and all the effort has been worth it, says the future cosmetic surgeon.
"When I went in for surgery or I felt uncomfortable, they (Shriners) gave me a toy after or before surgery and after surgery I'd would see the smile on my mom's face. I think that was the reason I want to do this."News10/KXTV