Reeds Spring High School Students Take on the "Make Sophia Smile" Challenge

By Lindsay Clein , Daniel Shedd |

Published 05/02 2014 10:23PM

Updated 05/02 2014 10:53PM

REEDS SPRING, Mo. --  Some local high school students came together Friday to give their friend a gift that no money can buy.

Reeds Spring High School student 15-year-old Sophia Greenwalt was diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2013. Her treatments have kept her out of school for over a year and she's been hospitalized in Kansas City for about a month due to a severe intestinal infection. She had her gallbladder removed Friday.

Sophia's mother recently posted a video on Facebook, challenging her family and friends to find ways to make Sophia smile using videos, pictures, and other social media posts while she's hospitalized.

Friday, some of her friends at Reeds Spring High School took advantage of that challenge-- hoping to bring the best kind of medicine there is to her hospital bed.

"I'm hoping it will make her laugh and smile," says Sophia's Friend, Ashley Hill.  "Because I really miss the smile on her face."

Since Sophia has been sick and can't be in school right now, a couple of her friends decided to take the school to her.

"Hey Sophie, we wanted to bring you to your favorite place, the gym, we know you love volleyball and its not the same without you," they said.

The group of girls decided to virtually take Sophia to some of her favorite places around Reeds Spring High School like the gym, the art room and the library in hopes of getting a laugh or smile out of her following her surgery.

"Most of us at some point in time have experienced someone that has gone through that, but when it's one of your very best friends, it makes it even more difficult," says Reeds Spring High School Principal Steve Levingston.  "And I think they hurt for her and care for her and they just want her back here as soon as possible."

"When you're in such a situation like that, going through a hard time, it's probably really hard to find stuff to smile about," says Sophia's friend, Ashley Winn.  "So we are trying to give her stuff to smile about."

The girls referenced her favorite music group, One Direction, and her favorite sport, volleyball.

"She would do it for any of us," says Hill.  "So why wouldn't we do it for her?  We love her so much."

The video these girls are making is part of the "Make Sophia Smile" Challenge.  It's something her mother recently started and videos have been pouring onto Facebook since.

"It probably means more to her than anything else does right now," says Winn.

"I just wanted to make her smile and laugh in the hospital," says Sophia's Friend, Lydia Gasper.  "I know it's kind of hard because I know I visited her a week ago and she wasn't allowed out of her room-- so the more people she sees, I think it's the best for her."

Sophia has won several awards for her community services, brightening the lives of others.  Today, her friends wanted to make her world a little bit brighter.

"Everyone is super proud of her and everyone is thinking of her," says Winn.  "And we all miss her and it's definitely different at school without her and we all can't wait for her to come back."

Sophia has raised nearly $40,000 for others in need in a "Helping Hats" program she started for the Reeds Spring School District. 

Sophia's mother tells us she will hopefully be able to go back to school at least part time this August.

There is a Make-a-Wish Missouri benefit ride for Sophia on Saturday, May 3.  The event starts at Outback Pub at 1924 W. State Hwy 76 in Branson.  Registration begins at 8 a.m. and kickstands go up at 11 a.m.

Pre-registration is $15 for single riders, $25 with passengers.  If you register the day of the event, it's $20 for single riders and $30 with passengers.

You can track Sophia's progress on Facebook and post a video to her page by clicking here.

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