Shiloh Burd is small.
But the 7-year-old, born with dwarfism, has a big, bubbly personality. It has won her many friends in her Spanaway neighborhood, where she’s known for leading bug-hunting expeditions, and at Eatonville Elementary School, where she was in first grade this year.
“Everybody loves her,” said Amanda Adamchak, her teacher during the school year that wrapped up last month. “She’s very funny. All the other kids want to be around her and be her friend. It’s not even just my class. All the kids in the school know her. It’s always, ‘Hi Shiloh! Hi Shiloh!’”
The little girl wasn’t around to receive their greetings the last few weeks of school. She suffered a head injury over Memorial Day weekend that landed her in the hospital and left her temporarily blind.
She’s on her way to recovery now.
Shiloh doesn’t really remember the accident in which she fell off a swing at the home of family friends. The helicopter ride to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, the days spent in the ICU, the sleepless nights for her parents – they’re all a blur.
But ask her about her stuffed pal, Wolfie, a faithful friend during her ordeal, and you’ll see a smile spread across her face and her eyes gleam.
“(Wolves) are cool. I like that they’re gray. They kind of have these cool-looking faces,” Shiloh said on a recent afternoon at home, clutching the toy in her lap. “This is my favorite stuffed animal. His belly is really soft. I sleep with him every night.”
Shiloh spent 15 days in the hospital after the accident. There was bleeding and a bruise on her brain, said her mom, Susie Burd.
For several days, Shiloh couldn’t see. Doctors couldn’t say when – or if – her vision would return, her mom said.
It’s back for the most part now, although Shiloh still struggles to see letters on a page. She also has some fuzzy memories and will do some physical therapy.
She wasn’t able to finish the school year with her friends at Eatonville Elementary, where her dad, Greg Burd, teaches physical education.
But she did pay a couple of visits. The family wanted students and staff to know how grateful they are.
Shiloh’s classmates flooded her with get-well cards and good wishes. And some older students took up a collection and raised enough money to buy her an iPad, complete with apps for people with vision problems.
“Everybody loves her” and wanted to show how much they care, said Principal Diane Heersink.
Shiloh has attended the school in the Mount Rainier foothills since kindergarten. But she earned her way into staff members’ hearts long before that during visits to the school with her dad, Heersink said.
“She comes in with her stuffed animals, dragging a (stuffed) snake, and gives me some kind of factoid,” the principal said.
Adamchak said Shiloh has a can-do spirit; on the occasions when something is out of reach in the classroom, she simply grabs a stool or asks for help, the teacher said.
The 7-year-old also has shown resiliency as she’s recovered from her head injury, her parents said.
In the hospital, “even when they were doing very unpleasant things to her, she never said, ‘No,’ or, ‘I won’t,’ or, ‘Stop,’ or, ‘I can’t.’ There was never an (inkling) of that,” Greg Burd said. “It was always, ‘OK, I’ll try.’”
At home on a recent afternoon, Shiloh and her little brother Levi, 21/2, played in the living room. Shiloh warned her brother not to be “too wild.” She still has to take it easy.
Wolfie wasn’t far from her side. She also had a friendly looking stuffed snake. The plush reptile had blue markings, making him a boy, Shiloh explained. She also has a pink one.
Greg and Susie Burd sat nearby. They said they’ve relied on their Christian faith for strength.
“I remember just praying to God to bring her back,” Susie Burd said, recalling the accident and all those days waiting and worrying. “I’m thankful. I’m so thankful because Shiloh has a lot to offer this world.”firstname.lastname@example.org