Abuse tainted this senator's childhood. No other child will face it on her watch.

Growing up, Lauren Book recalls that a shroud of secrecy veiled her family.

All photos courtesy of L'Oreal Paris and Lauren Book.

Her mother lived with a mental illness. Her father, a prominent Florida lobbyist concerned with his public persona, made one thing very clear to her: What happened inside the Book household must stay private by any means necessary.


"He said, 'We don't talk about things that happen in this house,'" Book told NPR in 2012. "That stuck with me always."

That message, Book says, also made her vulnerable to abuse. When Book's nanny — a woman she called Waldy — began to touch her inappropriately when she was 12 years old, Book felt like she had no one to turn to.

"You feel invisible," Book says, "because if anybody actually saw you they wouldn’t allow the things that were happening to you to happen."

The abuse continued for years.

Even after Book told her father about it and her nanny was arrested, the pain that Waldy visited upon her continued to take a physical toll.

Because of how Waldy had manipulated her, Book was wracked with guilt over sending "the one person who loved her" to prison. As a result, she started engaging in self-mutilation and eventually developed anorexia.

It took years for Book to heal and recognize that what had happened to her wasn't her fault.

One essential part of Book's healing was that she help other vulnerable children. She vowed to never let what happened to her happen to another child.

In 2007, she launched Lauren's Kids. The non-profit is predicated upon the evidence-based idea that more than 90 percent of childhood sexual abuse can be prevented with education.

The organization teaches both children and their families about childhood sexual abuse through classroom education and awareness campaigns. It also promotes and supports healing.

"We talk about how important it is to identify behaviors that are unsafe, icky and not quite right with anyone," says Book. "When we started the foundation, it was more geared towards sexual abuse, but really it’s any trauma and how to access help."

In 2013, Book was named a L'Oreal Paris Woman Of Worth for her work with Lauren's Kids. The honor, which as been given to 10 American women yearly since 2007, celebrates those women whose fierce passion for social justice and problem-solving has led to major change in their community.

The award wasn't a culmination of Book's achievements — it was a catalyst that fueled her to take even more action. "Being recognized by L’Oreal Paris as a Woman of Worth really put me on a trajectory to continue to use my voice in a different way, advocating far beyond the things that I ever thought I would," she says.

"Worth to me now represents spirit," she says, "Every single individual has worth and spirit and a driving force. You may not know it or be able to find it yet, but we all have it."

Today, Book is a Florida state senator. She‘s also a mother. Protecting children is her top priority.

That promise extends to every child in Florida.

"On both Kennedy and Hudson’s walls, I have a little saying that is 'Raise hell and change the world,' says Book. "I want my kids to not fall to the childhood I did. I want them, when they see an injustice, to attack it."

What happened to Book shouldn't happen to anyone — and she's making sure of that. Her ability to turn a horrifying experience into motivation for lasting community change, however, is a lasting reminder of the power that one person has to make a life-altering difference for so many others.

To learn more about Book's journey and her work, check out the video below.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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