Tomorrow’s Innovators: Maryville student proves that differences can be inspiring, not limiting

Occupational therapists helped Madelyn Hubbs master some of the tasks of daily living—such as tying her shoes—that can be more challenging for someone who is limb different. But Madelyn says they taught her so much more

“They taught me that no matter your disability you can achieve whatever you want,” she says.

Madelyn, 19, was born without her left arm. The therapists and other specialists at Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis helped give her the tools and confidence she needed to learn to do some things a little differently from her peers. They also inspired her to her future career path.

Today, Madelyn is studying occupational therapy at Maryville University, where she is a recipient of the Maryville University/St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tomorrow’s Innovators scholarship. Given annually to 30 students, the scholarship is valued at $3,000 annually and renewable for up to 10 semesters with a 3.0 Maryville University GPA.

Madelyn, now in her sophomore year, wants to teach other children that their differences should not limit them.

Madelyn has long been a supporter of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Years ago she started raising money for Shriners programs, organizing an annual toy drive and volunteering as a patient ambassador. She has spoken to thousands of students and adults throughout the St. Louis area to promote disability awareness. She also works as a counselor at an annual retreat for kids who have upper limb differences and their families.

In high school, she helped staff members at Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis put together an anti-bullying toolkit for other patient ambassadors, as well as parents and the public to use to bring awareness to the issue. Madelyn remembered a time in elementary school when she was teased about her physical difference, and “that’s something I don’t want other kids to go through,” she says.

This year, in addition to her studies and her involvement in several Maryville campus organizations, Madelyn has taken on a new role. She was named one of two National Patient Ambassadors for Shriners Hospitals for Children. She travels frequently around the country to talk about her personal journey in the face of adversity and the difference Shriners Hospitals for Children made in her life. “And I get to say thank you to the incredible men and women who raised money for us,” she says.

She also still finds time to add to a series of YouTube videos she first created when she was 14 to help others who are missing limbs. The videos show Madelyn tying her shoes, playing the ukulele, putting on nail polish, and now even driving her car.

“Everyone is unique in their own unique way,” she tells others. “I can do anything you can do—I just might do it differently.”

This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios in collaboration with Maryville University. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact tgriffin@stltoday.com.