CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- A couple of UNC graduates have teamed up to create an inspirational web series, helping people facing adversity by sharing their own stories of hardship.
Cruz Santibanez was just an average teenager from Smithfield until an explosive cooking accident in 2008 left her badly scarred.
"It was very painful. I don't think there's a word that would describe that pain," Santibanez said.
Her face, arms, and legs were all burned. She's had over 40 reconstructive surgeries, but she says the tragedy also helped her turn her life around.
"It's definitely been a 180 degree turn because now I dedicate a lot of my time to my family," Santibanez said.
She says she wants to use the experience to help others by creating a web series called "The Possible," and she's raising money online for a camera and editing software.
Her friend Megan Blanton and Margarita Phannavong joined her on the project. Phannavong says her own scars are internal.
"I have a family that didn't really encourage me to go on to school, but I made it," Phannavong said.
Phannavong and Santibanez are both UNC graduates. Phanna says those emotional scars are just as real and they want their web series to reflect that.
"We want to give everyone the opportunity to share their story, and to kind of talk through their story, talk through their issues, to put them on the better path of recovery," Phannavong said.
As for Santibanez, she calls her scars a blessing.
"A lot of people have asked me 'if you could go back into time or even now if you had the option to get the scar removed, would you," and I'm like "No!'," Santibanez said.
"They remind me that things do get better, regardless of whatever it is that you're going through," she adds.
Their Indiegogo campaign runs until July 1st.They're hoping to raise $5000. You can help them out by donating to their project here.
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UNC graduates share inspirational story in new web series