O’Quinn has been a paramedic for more than 15 years. After contracting COVID-19, she recovered and returned to work. Or as her niece Lacey, who nominated her for the Heroes with Heart award, put it, “When she was finally healed and released back to work, she didn’t hesitate for one moment.”
Lacey received a one-of-a-kind doll in her aunt’s likeness to gift to her along with a $200 American Girl gift card for her to keep.
O’Quinn took advantage of her moment in the spotlight to deliver a message to the young girls who form the bulk of the American Girl fanbase. “We are just as strong as the men are. We can do this job just as well as everyone else,” she said. “Don’t let anyone hold you back because you are a girl.”
In a statement, American Girl said “Our criteria, points of originality, being heartfelt in nature and fitting the contest theme, helped us narrow it down, but truly every submission was moving and it’s wonderful to hear of all the real-life community heroes around us.”
In addition to O’Quinn, dolls were modeled after a grocery store worker, a teacher, a nurse assistant, and a pilot who flew a team of American doctors to Haiti to fight the pandemic there and a planeful of Americans previously stranded there back to their home country.
“Whether you’re providing healthcare, keeping families stocked with food and supplies, or making sure cities keep running,” American Girl writes on its website, “we owe you a huge thanks.”