February 14, 2011

January 26, 2011 will be a day that Stephanie Flood, the 2010 winner of Fox Valley Volkswagen's LoveBug2 Contest, will never forget. After a long day of doctor visits and an MRI, her tests came back clear, making her cancer free for nine long years.

At age nine, Stephanie was diagnosed with ependymoma, an aggressive brain cancer. She has battled the disease four times and has beaten it every time, but she has also experienced late effects due to her treatments. In 2005, she suffered a mini stroke, leaving the left side of her face paralyzed. In 2008, doctors found grey matter in her right hand which has affected her writing abilities.

But through it all, Stephanie remains a positive and giving person. She actively participates in The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, and she has also been involved in multiple events at Children's Memorial Hospital, including The Race for Kids 5K Run/Walk and Taste of Lurie Children's Hospital.

Knowing first hand what a disease can put you through has made Stephanie's desire to help others who are sick grow stronger. As a fighter, and more importantly, as a survivor, her strength doesn't solely come from being optimistic. "First, you have to have faith," she said. "Then, you have to be strong, even when you feel weak. And finally, you have to talk about it. Having a great support system is key."

Her optimistic disposition even impacted the name of her car. "Felicity is a synonym for joy, and I wanted to name the car Felicity because of all the joy I have felt from winning and the joy I experience every time I look at her," she said. "She even has her own Facebook page, Felicity Flood, so people can see what she's up to."

Along with the great feeling Felicity brings, Stephanie loves all of her features. "I love the color, and all the lights, and how I can pump the height of the seat up," she said. "I love the ESP, which has come in handy in storms, and it's also nice to have a CD player." But there's one main attraction that puts a big smile on Stephanie's face: punch bug. "I laugh when I see other people glancing at Felicity and punching someone else in their car," she said. "I'm part of a constant game!"

Winning the LoveBug2 Contest has also given Stephanie a positive outlook on the future. Having recently graduated from Northern Illinois University, Felicity has helped Stephanie get to job interviews and has given her the opportunity to travel. "I want to visit all 50 states and all the people who helped me win the car," she said. And she knows these experiences wouldn't be possible without the LoveBug2 Contest. "The team at Fox Valley Volkswagen is superb, and I will be reminded of their generosity every time I look at or talk about Felicity," she said. "I think it's an amazing thing they're doing, and I hope they continue to bless others in the future."

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