FARMINGTON — Nova Cox stands out in any room with her brightly-colored hair and exuberant personality. She immediately introduces herself with a smile.
Nova is not yet 10 years old, but she has already had more than a dozen surgeries, including skull modifications, a multistage hearing implant and spinal surgery.
She visited Hustle Kindness Headquarters in Farmington this week and was presented with a pair of custom shoes by Peach’s Neet Feet. Nova received the shoes during one of the regular art parties the headquarters hosts.
Peach's Neet Feet is a Farmington-based nonprofit that focuses on "hustling kindness" and helping children who have disabilities or chronic illnesses.
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Peach’s Neet Feet has been painting custom shoes for children like Nova since 2011. The organization flew Nova and her mother to New Mexico from Massachusetts.
Nova’s visit included a trip to the Four Corners National Monument as well as Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. Nova said her two favorite things about the trip were receiving the shoes and visiting Meow Wolf.
Nova’s face lit up when artist Corey Smith, whose sister founded Peach’s Neet Feet, presented her with a pair of shoes he had painted for her. The shoes included designs like Lego bricks and Pokemon.
Nova Cox, a girl born with Pfeiffer syndrome, received a pair of painted shoes from Peach's Neet Feet when visiting Hustle Kindness in Farmington. Hannah Grover, email@example.com
The community helped pay for the shoes when the Support Staff Association of San Juan College set out a collection jar during the Making Change events earlier this year. Nova's trip to New Mexico was funded by people who purchased merchandise from the Hustle Kindness Shop.
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For Smith, painting shoes gives him the chance to not only express himself as an artist, but also to get to know one of the “fighters” the nonprofit chooses to give shoes to.
“Each pair of shoes is truly one of a kind,” he said.
Nova was born with Pfeiffer syndrome, a condition that affects the way bones grow and fuse. The genetic condition leads to premature fusion of some bones in the skull, which impacts face shape.
While Nova has already had 13 surgeries, her mother, Liz Cox, said Nova will need many more in the future.
That hasn’t stopped her from pursuing hobbies like martial arts. She has a green belt in taekwondo and enjoys board breaking. Cox said Nova will even paint the boards to match her hair.
“She’s a really lovely human,” Cox said. “It’s an absolute privilege to be her mom.”
Nova had some advice for people who want to live a happy life.
“Just have fun,” she said. “Do what you think is right and just be yourself.”
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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