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Towson Student Wins Courage Award, Turns Facial Differences Into Positive Tool

Honored at American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting

CHICAGO, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Erin Hope Williams, a Baltimore native born with a rare congenital deformity who turned her differences into a positive teaching tool, will be the proud recipient of the 2008 Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity Award, at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2008 conference, Saturday, November 1, in Chicago.

The Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity program honors reconstructive plastic surgery patients, nominated by their ASPS Member Surgeons, whose lives were restored through reconstructive plastic surgery and whose charitable actions influence and benefit the lives around them. The award is supported by Ethicon, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company.

"Erin has taken a facial abnormality and used it as a positive influence," said Craig Dufresne, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon. "She continues to grow and become an outstanding example of how someone can excel despite what would appear to be overwhelming odds."

Erin Williams was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic disorder characterized by craniofacial deformities and underdeveloped ears, eyes and mouth. She has undergone 50 surgeries, most recently in March, to reconstruct her eyes, ears, chin and cheeks.

Despite the constant interruption from school, extracurricular activities and her everyday life that undergoing numerous operations presented, Williams excelled at school, vigorously pursued her love of the arts, theater and dance, and turned her disability into a teaching tool. She passionately lectures to schools, students and teachers about her condition and what it has meant to her. Additionally, Williams works with special needs children at the Ridge Ruxton School in Towson. While pursuing all these interests, Williams is a 22-year-old special education major with a 3.8 GPA at Towson University scheduled to graduate in May, 2009.

"I have lived my life the way I would hope anyone in my situation would," said Williams. "I chose to enjoy my life, live it to the fullest and not give in to what some people may see as a disability."

More than 80,000 people underwent maxillofacial surgery in 2007, according to ASPS statistics.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons is the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons in the world. Representing more than 6,700 physician members, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

SOURCE American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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