18 Under 18: Logan McGill

After overcoming scoliosis, she raised more than $70,000 for a children's hospital

Updated: February 29, 2012, 1:03 AM ET
By Cristina Goyanes | ESPNHS GIRL Magazine

Logan McGillKayana Szymczak/The Dallas Morning NewsGreenhill (Dallas) sophomore Logan McGill has overcome scoliosis to excel in cross country and swimming.

ESPNHS honors 18 female teen athletes who are doing remarkable things on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Click here to read about each of them.

At the start of eighth grade, Logan McGill's teacher asked the class to give a presentation about what they had learned over the summer. When it was McGill's turn, she stood up and revealed -- beneath baggy clothes -- a corset-shaped plastic brace that buckled in the back and extended from below her armpits to the top of her hips. The competitive swimmer and avid runner had been wearing it every day, she explained, since she discovered she had scoliosis (a disorder that causes a curve in the spine and affects some six million Americans) after a routine sports massage in June 2009. With the help of a friend, she took off the brace and invited classmates to try it on. Everyone lined up.

"When I was diagnosed with scoliosis, I wanted to embrace the positive, not the negative," said McGill, 16, now a sophomore at Greenhill (Dallas, Texas), where she swims and runs cross country. Wearing the brace for 20 hours daily for two years (to stop the curve from progressing) allowed her to continue to swim, which she's been doing since age five. The alternative option, spinal fusion surgery (welding her vertebrates together), would have affected her flexibility and put her athletic dreams, like going to nationals or swimming in college, on indefinite hold.

McGill's teammates, both at school and at the Dallas Mustangs swim club, were supportive, helping her in and out of the brace (which featured fake abs she had drawn with a Sharpie) between events at meets. And when McGill devised a plan to raise money for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, where she had received treatment and the brace for free, her teammates had her back.

"I wanted to do something for the amazing hospital that had given me so much," said McGill, who started the Race for the Curve charity in the summer of 2010. Her mission was to form a relay team, which eventually grew to 10 teams with five runners each, and collect $20,000 for the hospital through the Dallas White Rock Marathon (runtherock.com). By race day, McGill had raised a remarkable $71,000 for patients at the children's hospital, says Bob Walker, executive vice president at TSRHC. "We treat children with orthopedic problems and rely heavily on the support of others, like Logan, to continue to do this work," said Walker, who says that amount she donated could help pay for braces and prosthetic for the kids. "It was so exciting, I felt really accomplished after the first year," said McGill, who ran the marathon with a relay team again in December 2011.

Cristina Goyanes

Contributor, espnW.com
Cristina Goyanes assumed she was athletically challenged until she signed up for her first triathlon at 25. She's since completed 10. She contributes to espnW and covers fitness and travel for various magazines.