Matti Rooks spent 3 years in Texas's foster care system.

Seventeen year old high school student Matti Rooks has already demonstrated a lifetime of leadership, service, and resilience. She is an inspiration for other young people for not only overcoming difficult experiences but then going on to advocate against bullying all over Texas to help others. Channel 11’s “Texans with Character” recently featured Matti for her character and spirit.

Matti’s commitment to service for others includes monthly volunteering for the Victory food bank and holding office in her High School student council. For Project 7 Youth Alive she travels to schools and churches all over Texas and speaks out against bullying telling her story of being in foster care, overcoming years of abuse, and having special needs.

Matti’s commitment to helping others is even more remarkable considering what she has overcome personally. Matti was born to a drug-addicted mother, resulting in her being born with multiple disabilities: blindness, hearing impairment, cleft palate and lip, no teeth, no tear ducts, no sweat glands, three fingers on each hand and two toes on each foot. Her step-father abused her. She cared for her younger brother.

After many years of abuse and medical neglect, she entered foster care at the age of 10. After two placements, she entered a home where she was adopted. Her adoptive mother noticed her strength and independence even with her disabilities. At church with her family, Matti heard the story of blind Bartamus and began to pray to regain her eyesight. At the age of 14, her eye sight returned to her, and she was able to use her newfound sight to learn to read. Now Matti advocates for children and speaks out all over Texas against bullying.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2014 Outstanding Young Leaders