My Hero

By Anita Barrow

     A person who has inspired me in the Animal Rights Movement, and whom I consider one of my heroes, is a young girl, Mikayla "Kayla" Schramm, an honor student in the Santa Fe, Texas, Jr. High School. Kayla became 13 years of age on September 19, 2000, but regardless of her youth, she is more than worthy to be called "My Hero." Her actions speak volumes as to the love and compassion she feels for all animals and people.

     Kayla's compassion for other creatures first surfaced when she was but a baby in diapers, ignoring fire ant stings in order to save some earthworms. At the slightly older age of two, she cried when she saw meat cooking on a stove. She became and remains to this day a vegetarian.

     Her passion for creatures continued where her nose was broken at one time by neighborhood bullies who resented her for saving little fish and crabs from a drainage ditch. Her brave actions continued and increased where, at 10 years of age, she was acknowledged on a San Antonio (Texas) television station as having been the youngest person who traveled the farthest to feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day.

     At the same age, Kayla was also featured with an article and picture on the front page of our local newspaper concerning her correspondence with various organizations and causes. Months later, a follow-up article again acknowledged her for having written to a District Attorney in Kansas City, Kansas, concerning a case she had read about. Her letter was read in court at a trial concerning "Scruffy," a small dog who was tortured to death by four young men, where it reportedly helped the judge make a decision in favor of the highest punishment possible for each of them. This same District Attorney later called Kayla at home to thank her for her unsolicited assistance and to advise her of the trial's outcome.

     Some of Kayla's accomplishments are summarized below. There is a story worthy of telling behind each instance.

  • Kayla was acknowledged by an article in the Tulsa (Oklahoma) World Newspaper's front page for writing against Ostrich races.

  • She was acknowledged in the Illinois Animal Action Newsletter for letter-writing efforts on behalf of animals.

  • Kayla's Letter against circuses to the Editor of Scranton, Pennsylvania, newspaper published.

  • After having won a national essay contest, "Why Animals Don't Belong in Circuses," Kayla was pictured on front page of the United Animal Nations Newsletter and on their website.

  • Her letter-writing efforts to help animals was published in PETA's Children's Newsletter, "GRRR!" and was acknowledged on the PETA website.

  • Teen Magazine published Kayla's letter to the editor opposing the Iditarod Sled dog race.

  • Out of thousands of comments received by the Breach Marine Protection concerning the slaughter of whales, her name and comment was selected as one of the comments to be displayed on their website.

  • At age 11, while alone in the woods, Kayla recaptured an adult male Canadian Timber Wolf who escaped from a sanctuary. It was the start of hunting season in Texas and without her brave actions, the wolf would likely have been shot, starved, poisoned or hit by a car. This story was posted on the North American Indian Children's Organization website, where she is its youngest representative.

  • She is also the youngest representative for the African Children's Fund, bringing relief and awareness to an AIDS orphanage in Kenya and helping everyone in a poor village in Tanzania.

  • Mikayla has received responses about her concerns of animal cruelty from Vice President Gore, Congresspersons, Senators, Mayors, County Commissioners, District Attorneys, Prime Ministers, to name only a few.

  • Nick News has contacted Mikayla for an interview about her opposition of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race which is upcoming.

     Any one of the above accomplishments is worthy of praise for a child of 13. However, one of her most prized acknowledgments came from the Cherokee Nation. After visiting and participating in an Intertribal Gathering in Florida, Kayla was adopted by the Cherokee Nation and given the name "Little She Wolf" in an official naming ceremony. She continues with her quest for safety and preservation of all animals and is currently writing a book with a Native American theme.