RICHMOND, Va. — American Girl is honoring frontline workers with a line of new dolls, and a Virginia EMT is one of them, thanks to her 12-year-old niece.
April O’Quinn was nominated by her niece Lacey, who lives in Texas, for the company’s “Heroes with Heart” contest, reported WTVR.
“She’s an amazing, sweet little girl,” O’Quinn said of her niece. “She tells everyone about me all the time.”
The company is honoring those risking their own safety to help others during the coronavirus pandemic by creating dolls that look like them.
“Just honoring people that are out there every day, doing what we’ve done in the past and continue to do today, even though the risk of catching this crazy disease is still there,” O’Quinn said.
American Girl asked families to submit their frontline heroes, and last month, O’Quinn became one of five national winners.
“I got a phone call from Lacey that told me she had nominated me for a contest,” said O’Quinn. “I had no words. I just ended up crying because I couldn’t say anything.”
American Girl created a custom doll to celebrate O’Quinn’s service.
“The stars and brightness in her face and eyes was amazing,” she said. “It was all worth the pictures even though I hate pictures.”
O’Quinn knows the risk of being a frontline worker all too well. She contracted COVID-19 in March and missed a month of work.
“The lung problems were probably the worst part for me. Just not being able … I couldn’t lay down. I had to sit up. I slept sitting up,” she said. “I feel very fortunate that I only have the minor problems that I have and I can be back to work.”
O’Quinn finds emergency medical services to be a good fit for her, and she didn’t hesitate to return to work once doctors gave the OK.
“I like to get in there, help people, make them feel better, and then step back into the dark,” she said. “The stigmatism of it, it’s a man’s world with EMS. I’m here to show and prove to you it’s not.”
Unfortunately O’Quinn’s doll isn’t for sale. Lacey has the only one.
“It’ll be something that neither one of us will ever forget. It’s a bond that you know I’ll hold with her forever,” O’Quinn said.
O’Quinn says she hopes American Girl produces a few more of them, though, with the profits going to a worthy cause.