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A Moravia teenager and two Auburn parents will be honored by Sennett nonprofit Champions for Life Sports Center Thursday as its first Community Champions.

The inaugural Celebration of Champions event, taking place at the Springside Inn in Fleming, will spotlight people who have dealt with great personal odds over the course of their lives. This year's recipients are Teaghan Campbell and Renae and Jason Eddy.

Teaghan Campbell

Campbell, 18, remembers the looks she used to receive when she walked in a room, as if they had been gossiping about her moments before.

She calmly recalled the cries of "stupid' she received in middle school and high school in Moravia from classmates she had formally considered friends. The reluctance to raise her voice above a whisper for fear of what verbal barbs would be hurled her way. The moment where a student publicly showed the class a test Campbell had received a bad grade on.

Campbell said she has a learning disability stemming from the anxiety she dealt with at the time.

While this barrage of bullying that began largely in middle school is long behind Campbell — who is now an A student at Tyburn Academy in Auburn — the experience was excruciating at the time, she said. Not too long after her freshman year began, she had missed a month of school due to being emotionally unable to attend.

Campbell said she became suicidal, and the night before she was set to return, she experienced a panic attack over the prospect of going back. As a result, she stayed for four days at a mental health facility in Ithaca in November 2013. 

"Out of all of the things I could have been thinking about, I was thinking that I didn't want to miss Thanksgiving," Campbell said with a slight laugh. Her mother, Suzanne Langtry, and grandparents Janet and Larry Lansdowne served as her emotional anchors.

Campbell went back to school and eventually transferred to Tyburn for her junior year in October 2015.

The change in atmosphere was apparent and a bit overwhelming, she said. From her first class, students began introducing themselves to her and being friendly. She was shy at first, shocked by the genuine kindness. Things picked up tremendously from there.

"I went from eating lunch in the nurse's office to making friends that I know will last a lifetime," Campbell said.

Though Campbell still has anxiety, it controls her life far less than it did just a couple years ago, she said. Campbell adores the friends she has made at Tyburn and is thrilled by the improvements she has made in her life. With none of the social hesitance she displayed before, she strives to engage new students like her friends did with her.

Campbell has no qualms discussing her pre-Tyburn life, and hopes to encourage others to seek help if they need it.

"I'm pretty open about it because if I share my story, others might not be afraid to speak up," she said.

Campbell said her guidance counselor, Regina Delaney, nominated her for the honor from Champions. She was caught off-guard at the time.

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"I was just kind of shocked because I didn't think my story was anything special compared to anyone else's," Campbell said.

Melissa Gravius, executive director for Champions for Life, said Campbell's rather quick recovery stuck out to her when the group was picking nominees.

"She sought help, and help led her to some big changes in her life," Gravius said.

Renae and Jason Eddy

Stay-at-home Auburn parents Renae and Jason Eddy balance being with their four children, working on their parenting blog and a host of other responsibilities. But they handle it with teamwork and solid planning, they said.

Each of the Eddys' four children — Owen, 10, Adam, 8, Lydia, 7, and Lily, 5 — have special needs, from autism to reactive attachment disorder. The children are home-schooled using the Montessori method, an educational style focused on the child. They use activities they have created themselves to help their children learn.

"It's just a matter of balancing all the responsibility, work and family," Jason said.

Since the state requires home-schooling parents to document their children's academic progress, the Eddys decided at first to simply post the work online. Renae also began searching home-school activities, and they opted to try their hands at it.

It grew from there, with Renae writing two parenting books.

The duo also served as foster parents from 2009 to 2014, with 20 children coming through their doors.

"We just felt there were more children waiting for our family," Renae said.

Champions for Life has been working with the Eddy children for years, and Gravius said she has been impressed by the parents juggling their various duties.

"Instead of buckling under that pressure, they blossomed," Gravius said.

Jason said he and Renae were stunned upon receiving the news of their Community Champion award two months ago, but said they appreciate it.

"To us, it doesn't seem that we do much to warrant an award or whatever," said Jason, who advised parents, "Try to observe and then adjust things to suit them and then you'll do well."

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Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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