POLK COUNTY, Fla. – After being bullied throughout grade school, a Polk County student started a foundation with her mom to raise awareness about her rare disease. 

What You Need To Know

  • Taylor Brown was diagnosed with Scleroderma in 2014

  • It's an auto-immune disease that affects skin, joints and organs

  • Brown and her mother, TaMetress Reed, started a foundation to raise awareness

​Taylor Brown was diagnosed with Scleroderma in 2014, but her mother TaMetress Reed said her daughter symptoms started years before that. 

“She started having symptoms at 2 years old and she didn’t get officially diagnosed until she was 11,” Reed said. “She was going from doctor to doctor to doctor—no one really knew what it was.” 

Brown said that she was bullied in school for the marks that the rare disease left on her skin. 

“It was really hard because when I was young I didn’t really understand myself so when people would ask I would say, ‘Oh, it’s just a birthmark,’” Brown said. 

Brown experiences achy joints, fatigue, scarring on her skin and a number of other internal issues. 

“They would see my scars and call them other things; they made fun of what they didn’t know but now that I know what’s happening to my body, it makes it easier,” Brown said. “Me and my mom have done a lot of research.” 

Brown and her mother started Taylor’s Journey Foundation to educate people on the condition and build the confidence of other teenagers who struggle through the same experiences. 

Scleroderma is an auto-immune disease that affects your skin, your joints and your organs, Brown said.

“There are two types; one is called localized & systemic and localized leaves scars on your body and systemic is in your body.” 

Brown has both localized and systemic Scleroderma but that did not stop her from excelling in her classroom and on the basketball court.

She is currently attending a basketball camp at Polk State where she will attend in the fall. 

“I know how push through and I know how to limit myself,” she said. “If I know that if I’m going overboard and I’m going to bring more pain to my body, I need to stop. Or if I know I have a little bit more—I keep going.” 

Taylor’s Journey Foundation hosts a number of fundraising events, including one in Lakeland at Skate World on June 24.