Vicki Jobe McCarrell was recently honored by Ingram's Magazine as one of "50 Missourians You Should Know in 2018."
Born and raised on a Cooper County farm southeast of Pilot Grove, McCarrell was nominated by Gary Gene Fuenfhausen, a board member of the Missouri Little Dixie Heritage Foundation, to receive this prestigious award. "50 Missourians You Should Know" is given out annually to mostly prominent Kansas City, St. Louis, and Missouri business men and women, but it also includes a few who work in the nonprofit sector.
According to Ingram's Managing Editor, Dennis Boone, "Each year we scour the state for candidates who have been successful in their chosen fields, who are respected in their communities, and who represent the kinds of values that a lot of people say are trademarks of Missourians: among them, hard work, vision, concensus-building, determination."
From January 2018 issue of Ingram's Magazine:
50 Missourians You Should Know 2018
Vicki McCarrell
Moebius Foundation, Pilot Grove, Cooper County, Missouri
Vicki McCarrell transplanted her central Missouri roots and education training in 1974, going on to become president of a fashion school in Los Angele. But a few years after parenting duties were added to the mix, it was time to re-root. "When Sean was ready to start kindergarten, I wanted him to go to the same kind of K-12 school, so the kids would know him," McCarrell says. "I didn't want changing schools like he would have to do in L.A."
Something else about her son was starting to re-order her life: A rare neurological disorder called Moebius Syndrome, a lack of facial nerves that makes smiling and frowning impossible. She could find only one other parent in L.A. with a child so-affected, and there was no support group. So she took action to establish the Moebius Syndrome Foundation, where she's been president of the board since its inception, handling the finances and working with the National Institutes of Health to fund research. That her work can unfold far from urban centers, she says, is one benefit of modern life, which allows the quality of life she wants and the work that satisfies her.
When contacted, McCarrell said she knew nothing of this honor until she received a phone call from Ingram's Magazine asking for an interview. It was only later when she received three copies of Ingram's January issue and a Thank You letter that she realized that she had joined Ingram’s elite.
"I was in the L.A. area when Sean was born in 1990. The doctors told me that his condition was so rare that I'd probably never meet another person with this ailment. But I didn't believe them and started calling all the neurological facalities I could find and found Lori Thomas whose child also had Moebius Syndrome. And we only lived four miles apart!"
McCarrell and Thomas started a newsletter and a support group. They co-founded the Moebius Syndrome Foundation in 1994. It was McCarrell who wrote the first grant for funds for research in 2007. Research that continues today for the cause and cure of this heart-breaking disease.
The foundation holds a conference every two years for those affected with Moebius Syndrome and this year it will be held in St. Petersburg, Florida, in July.