Stephanie Clark Nielson is a well-known Mormon mommy blogger who chronicled her survival and recovery from a plane crash on her blog “The NieNie Dialogues.”
In 2008, Nielson and her husband, Christian, were in a plane crash and subsequent fire that resulted in burns over 80 percent of her body. She was in a coma for three months then weathered painful treatment that included multiple surgeries, skin grafts, and physical therapy.
Her positive approach to life, her dedication to her family, and her honesty about her recovery led to increased awareness of her blog. She appeared on the Oprah Winfrey and Today shows. An article about her appeared in People Magazine. She is featured in a popular YouTube “Mormon Message” video for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which she is a member. She is a popular speaker at Brigham Young University Women’s Conference and Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women.
In April 2012, Nielson gave birth to her fifth child. She also published her first book, Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy, which spent several weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
In a stirring October 2013 LDS General Conference address on mental and emotional challenges, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ, told about her experience and her ability to fight “her way back from the abyss of self-destruction.”
The Nielsons have started a 501(c) (3) public charity that, according to their website, will “inspire hope and heroism in people who need it most.” As of November 2015, the charity is in the startup phase and will officially launch in February 2016 with twelve chapters nationwide.
The inspiration for the charity came while Stephanie lay in a hospital bed pretending to be asleep.
- She was avoiding therapists who, in an effort to aid her recovery, came into her hospital room to talk through the trauma she was experiencing after a plane crash that left both Nielson and her husband, Christian, so badly burned that they were placed in medically induced comas. While she knew the therapists meant well, Nielson felt that rehashing the emotions associated with the horrific accident was not helping.
- “I was thinking, ‘What would be helpful to me?’" Nielson said. "And I thought, ‘It would be so great if my therapist or nurse would bring a computer in and say, ‘Check out this girl. She was burned just like you, and look what she’s doing now.’ It would just be so nice for me to sit and watch this woman who went through something very similar to me and now has a beautiful life.”
Her husband speaks of her beautiful life:
- “Stephanie won’t say this, but I can because I’m the president of her fan club,” Christian Nielson said. “There is a phenomenon that happened in Stephanie. When her beauty was physically burned away, it was restored to her, and not because plastic surgeons fixed it or repaired it, although she did receive great care. It rose up from within her. It came up and exposed itself on the surface again because there is a beautiful woman inside that came out and became visible again on the surface.”
The Nielsons are accepting donations to Beauty Rises and plan to create inspiring messages about what beauty is and where it comes from, to expand the website, and to visit the chapters. They eventually hope to offer scholarships to women whose lives inspire others. They want to tell the stories of people who are living beautiful lives.
The charity’s name is inspired by a scripture from the Old Testament: “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).