It was my absolute delight make an introduction between two very powerful women who have both overcome immense adversity in their own lives. Cheryl Hunter, a regular on CNN, is a woman on a mission to share her “Wabi Sabi” philosophy through her personal journey of resilience. When she was a young teenager, she was kidnapped, raped and left for dead. An experience most would take a lifetime to overcome. Cheryl openly shares how, although she escaped her captors, her mind remained imprisoned by the traumatic experience. She learned how to free herself from the inside and has created a platform to help others overcome trauma by learning Resilience. She incorporates the beauty of “Wabi Sabi” or the “Perfection of Imperfection” into the inspirational work that she continues in the world. This was the ideal philosophy to connect her with Rosanne Stuart, Mother of Madeline Stuart. Madeline is a special treasure as she is the top Down Syndrome Model in the world with the largest social media following. Rosanne opened up to me about her challenges and her deep desire to help her daughter on her own personal mission to be a top model. Unfortunately, our culture remains close-minded when it comes to disability and imperfection. If anything, this type of thinking only empowers her resolve to help her daughter to share her story and her message. Madeline Stuart, in Rosanne’s words, is one of the kindest human beings on the planet. With a ready hug and smile for any and all, Madeline recently walked 8 different runways in NYFW! That’s an incredible feat for any young model, let alone one who has had to live with a disability that makes every challenge far more difficult than the average person. I have immense respect for both Madeline and Rosanne and couldn’t wait to make the introduction with Cheryl Hunter.
As the Stuarts live far across the pond in Australia, Cheryl connected with Rosanne on a WhatsApp call and instantly resonated with her personally and professionally. In Cheryl’s words:
“Speaking with Rosanne was so impactful. She is taking on more than most people do in life – she runs several businesses, manages her daughter’s career, and is raising a daughter who has additional needs. From the outside, one might imagine Rosanne would be frazzled, burdened, or let it all get to her. On the contrary, Rosanne is enlivened by all she’s doing. She is changing the world one mind and one heart at a time. She opens people’s eyes to what is possible in an inclusive world where we’re judged only on the kindness of our hearts. She shared with me an amazing story which happens with some frequency in her life. People meet her and she’ll say, “Hello! I’m Rosanne!” and they’ll say hello quickly and sometimes even dismissively. Then, the same people will realize that she’s Madeline’s mother, and they’ll change on a dime. Roseanne doesn’t get bent out of shape by it – or anything else, including when fashion houses don’t want to book Madeline because they say they want “experienced” or “professional” models. Rather, Rosanne turns all of these experiences into fuel. Madeline and Rosanne are an extraordinary team, and I’m honored to be partnered with them.”
The Bridging the Gap Campaign is an opportunity to broaden our perspective of what is beautiful, what is desirable, and what it means to age. Through the campaign, we tear down walls by creating authentic relationships with people – regardless of what age group or category they’re in. We even leave behind our own labels that we came to the campaign with (i.e. “Millennial” and “Mid-lifer”) because once we’ve created true connection, we can transcend all of the boxes we’ve put ourselves in. Hopefully, this campaign is a microcosm of the world we can create on the macro, global level.”
In speaking with both Cheryl and Rosanne following their deep conversation, they were overjoyed by the beautiful connection and similarities in having overcome immense adversity. They are two bright lights doing incredible things in the world and I am blessed to call them my friends. You can find Madeline Stuart on Instagram and on her blog at Madeline Stuart Model. Cheryl Hunter is @huntercheryl and you can find her latest Resilience Coaching Program at Breakfree Formula. These are two changing the world in their own unique way. You don’t want to miss them!