Carmen spent three months at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, home of Indiana's only pediatric burn center. Since her stay at Riley, she has been working to help other burn survivors.
Not only has Carmen raised money for Hoosier Burn Camp, but she is also currently working with nurses at Riley to start Compression for Compassion, a program to send compression garments to burn survivors in third world countries.
Jackson Township Principal Jeff Fritz who described Carmen as, "a very special young lady" opened the event.
"We are very proud of her and are glad to have her in our Jackson Township family," Fritz said.
Fritz was joined on stage by Brazil Mayor Brian Wyndham, Riley Children's Foundation Special Projects Officer Cassie Martin, Brazil Kroger Manager Kevin Lozier, Pastor Mark Thompson of First Baptist Church, and Rob Williams and Jennifer Brown of Flip Flops Food Concessions who donated their profits at the Brazil 4th of July to Hoosier Burn Camp.
Martin addressed the crowd and told the students about the Kids Caring and Sharing program through Riley, which allows students from all over Indiana to raise money on behalf of Riley Hospital. The students at Jackson Township participated in that program by wearing hats and donating money Friday. Further, the school will hold a book fair next week in honor of the Kids Caring and Sharing program.
"Carmen and her family have been wonderful friends of the foundation and of Riley Hospital," Martin said. "Carmen has been given the honor of a Riley Champion. We have eight Riley Champions throughout the state of Indiana, representing all the patients of Riley Hospital. These champions have come through Riley Hospital, and they have done all they can do to help raise money and awareness that support kids. We thank Carmen for what she is doing."
Wyndham read a proclamation declaring Feb. 1, 2013, to be "Carmen Schleppy Day" in the city of Brazil.
"In recognition of her strength and perseverance she has demonstrated by overcoming severe burns, we salute Carmen, her positive spirit and can-do attitude," Wyndham said.
In addition, Carmen was presented with a key to the city.
"We present the key to the city to those who have made contributions to the city far-and-above anyone else, and you have done that," Wyndham told Carmen. "You are an inspiration to our community."
Lozier presented Carmen with a cake and flowers from Kroger.
"Kroger is a partner with Riley Hospital, and I am honored to be here for Carmen today," Lozier said.
Further, on behalf of Riley, Carmen was presented with a Riley Champion banner to hang in the school.
"This is a reminder that today is your day," Martin said.
Carmen's father Anthony then spoke to the crowd, giving thanks to the staff at Riley Hospital, First Baptist Church and the city of Brazil.
"Our Riley journey was quite amazing," Anthony said. "We had a bad situation but when we got there we were met by knowledgeable and caring nurses, doctors and therapists who all did their part to help Carmen heal both physically and mentally.
"We want to thank Brazil for their support and prayers," Anthony continued. "We couldn't have done all of this without everybody being there for us."
Carmen then addressed the crowd, saying it was "very exciting to be a Riley Champion."
"It brings happiness to my heart," Carmen said. "I would like to thank my nurses Angela and Katie for choosing me as a Riley Champion."
Carmen expressed her desire to keep raising money for Hoosier Burn Camp and to donate toys to Riley Hospital.
Carmen's mother Colleen said it was an honor to have her daughter recognized.
"It was great of Riley and Kroger to recognize her as a champion," Colleen said.
When asked about her daughter's future, Colleen said she hopes Carmen will continue to educate and give back.
"I would love to see her continue to educate people about burn injuries," Colleen said. "She presented to her Girl Scout troop during Burn Awareness Week about burn injuries, and I'd like to see her keep doing that. I hope she always continues to encourage and give support to kids who are injured."