TALLMADGE, Ohio (WJW)– FOX 8 News is recognizing Remarkable Women in our communities. Throughout Women’s History Month, we will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women.
On an average year, more than 10,000 people are burned in building fires across the country. For the rest of their lives, they have to bear the scars from those burns. Teri Theiss used to be ashamed of the scars on her stomach and back. She said it made her feel difference and ugly, and people weren’t always kind.
“Until I started changing out for gym class in junior high school, and that’s when I started becoming reclusive because people were staring whispering in the locker room and making fun,” she said.
For years, she felt bad about herself. Then she decided to not let her scars own her.
Theiss is Elite Ms. Ohio and used her platform to champion many causes.
She’s hosted pottery and paint parties to raise money for cancer care and survivors. She teamed up with Akron bikers for poker runs where they raised more than $60,000. She held shoe drives for disadvantaged children. She’s held blood drivers, toy drives and clothing drives.
Then, there’s the aluminum pop tabs. Pounds and pounds of pop tabs. From small bags from her dad to a big, year-long community service project by a lot of very motivated young women.
“These girls ranged from babies to 18 years old. So I said have them collect pop tabs for me. Everybody drinks pop, some drink adult beverages. So I said it’s easy to rip that tab off and put it in a bowl.”
They ended up with 94 of tabs.
Theiss also raised money to buy 81 smoke detectors for the Tallmadge Fire Department to distribute to families.
She said she doesn’t want anyone else to go through what she did so she’s going to do her best to spread the message to others.
“This is a reminder daily that I lived through something that could have killed me,” she said. “Those scars are a part of you. They’re beautiful. Embrace them.”