Good Day Grad: Pride in her pain - FOX 13 News

Good Day Grad: Pride in her pain

Updated: 27 Mar 2012, 9:02 AM EDT
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's Feb. 2, 2012, and the Winnipeg Jets are playing the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

On the jumbotron, defensive lineman Brett Clark makes the announcement:

"... That is why Sophia Nell Baldor is tonight's Community Hero. Before the game it is my privilege to present Sophia with a $50,000 grant to her designated charities."

You can just barely see the tears well up in her eyes, but what's unmistakable on Sophia Baldor's face is pride.

She waits for the announcement and then waves to a packed house at the Forum.

"That was one of the best moments of my life," Sophia said laughing.

She may be one of the bravest Good Day Grads we've met so far.

After a four-year battle with anorexia, fear no longer silences her. Something else guides her now.

"I found my voice," she said, "and my ability to speak openly about my eating disorder and the tribulation going into high school."

Just after eighth grade, Sophia lost a staggering 40 pounds and went straight to recovery at a hospital in Tulsa, OK.

'I did not share that with anyone for two years," she confessed.

But then a new attitude took over.

"I made the conscious decision that from then on I was going to use my story to help other people," she said defiantly. "It's been incredible."

Now 18 years old and a strong senior at The Academy of the Holy Names, Sophia is a champion for other young girls to confide their own struggles with eating disorders -- through a whole host of organizations, all while getting top grades and keeping academics a priority.

Just recently Baldor and her dad went back to that Tulsa hospital where she gave hope to girls as young as 12. For her, it was finally closure.

"It has strengthened me in my recovery. It has given me the determination that whatever I preach I must practice myself," she said.

That's what made her the Lightning's special girl on that February night. For other girls living in fear, it might be their saving grace.

Baldor told us the $50,000 grant went to three organizations she believes do the best work: The National Eating Disorder Foundation, Frameworks and Train-Up.

And as for college, Baldor said Elon is her top choice. They've almost promised she can continue an even bigger leadership role in championing her personal mission.

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