Aubrey Armstrong is a bubbly, active sixteen-year-old girl. She is the kind of person who brings a smile to everyone’s face without trying. She competes in pageants and was nominated on Homecoming court at her high school her freshman year. She also has Down Syndrome. This friendly and outgoing bundle of energy was recently chosen as Mississippi’s 2019 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion, and this is only one of her many titles.
The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is a nonprofit organization that raises money for pediatric hospitals in the United States and Canada. They identify children with remarkable medical stories as Champions to be representatives of the children they help every year. As a Champion, Aubrey gets to spend a year raising money for Blair Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, the hospital she grew up receiving pediatric care from and the only hospital in Mississippi dedicated to pediatrics.
Aubrey herself has grown up getting treatment at Blair Batson. She has taken physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. She also continues to see specialists at the hospital.
“She has had multiple visits with specialists including genetics, ENT, ophthalmology, developmental specialists, endocrinology, dental and others to helpher thrive and meet her developmental milestones,” said her mother, Holly.
Holly was previously a nurse at Blair Batson. Aubrey is Holly’s second child of three, and she and her husband, Brad, did not know she was going to be born with Down Syndrome. They are both grateful that Aubrey had the opportunities that she did.
“I was thrilled and honored she was chosen,” Holly said. “I used to work at Blair Batson, and I knew what an honor it was, what an important role she could play and how amazing CMN is. That was all magnified by 10,000 when she was chosen as a national champion, the first from Blair Batson. She ‘works’ for them weekly with videos, endorsements and public speaking events.”
In addition to being a local celebrity, Aubrey also goes to high school with her friends. She’s currently a sophomore at Oxford High School.
“My favorite class is with Mrs. Busby,” Aubrey said.
“She loves school,” Holly said. “I would not say she is a very academic student; she does do well, but her favorite thing is socializing with her friends and taking classes with her special needs group, The Superiors. She really loves going on field trips, cooking and learning life skills in that class. Not sure about after high school just yet, but there are programs for individuals like Aubrey at schools such as Auburn, A&M and [Mississippi] State. Unfortunately, Ole Miss does not have one.”
Her older sister, Ann-Michael, is a freshman at the University of Mississippi, and her younger sister, Ava, is eight.
“Aubrey is friendly, outgoing, sassy and independent.” Holly said. “She is headstrong and can be bossy, but she is a great friend and has a sweet side. We in the past have taken certain vacations or done certain things as a family because of Aubrey, but they also are better people because of her. They are both very aware of others, compassionate and I think good girls.”
Aubrey has gathered quite a following. She has her own YouTube channel in which she makes videos and vlogs with her dad. She also sent a lot of birthday wishes to a variety of celebrities. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kim Kardashian and Gal Gadot are just a few. Johnson is one of her favorites. Gadot actually returned her birthday video with an inspirational thank you video.
“I watched [Johnson],” Aubrey said. “When I see his passion, I can see how I feel inside.”
Aubrey’s Instagram has gathered around 2,275 followers. She often posts about her adventures raising money for Blair Batson, among other things. One of her favorite things to talk about is Disney World and all of the princesses.
“My favorite one is Sleeping Beauty because she sleeps all the time, and I sleep on my bed at home, and my bed is huge so I can sleep on it.”
She has plans for the future as well. Her dream is to open a beauty and makeup store on the Square in Oxford one day. She wants to make her own makeup line as well.
“Makeup is my passion because I like it,” Aubrey said.
“I would say that even though some people may view having a child with special needs as a ‘awe poor things’ kind of deal it is not,” Holly said. “Yes, we have issues; yes, she needs more care than some or more help than some, but in the end, she is the glue that keeps us going. She has shown me that her disability does not define her. She has achieved so much in sixteen years that is amazing. And I can’t wait to see what’s next!”