Profile: Sierra Miller

Local pens book to help children dealing with NF

By Dawne Belloise

Sierra Miller grew up in Crested Butte with her parents Kara and Scott who arrived on the scene 22 years ago. Sierra’s childhood experiences here were not the same as most of the feral kids of the Butte because at three and a half years of age, she was diagnosed with neurofibroma (NF), a rare genetic condition that causes tumors to grow along nerves. The condition and treatments can make a kid feel alone and fearful, so Sierra has created Rascal the Raccoon—a friendly, sweet and funny raccoon in the book she authored to help kids with the disease to understand that they are not alone and to help others understand what those kids are going through. Sierra’s book is entitled Rascal the Raccoon’s NF Adventures.

The chronic disease affects each person differently, she explains, and with some, it manifests noticeably with tumors appearing on the skin, or large birthmarks, “At times it can be painful. Your nerves are very sensitive.” She spent much of her childhood time in hospitals, doctors’ offices and in treatment. Still, she managed to ski and do outdoorsy activities, but she says, “It’s just that if you fall you’re going to hurt a little bit more.” Sierra played soccer with the West Elk Program for Crested Butte school kids until Covid hit. In her junior year at CBCS, Sierra transferred to Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs. After graduating in 2023, Sierra enrolled in Johnson and Wales University (JWU) in Providence, Rhode Island, choosing psychology as her major.

Sierra was in an art class writing an assignment, a short comic about woods awareness and safety, when she created Rascal the Raccoon. 

“I use a raccoon because they’re my favorite animals,” she says of the project that initiated the book she wrote and illustrated entirely herself. Rascal, who has NF, goes on different adventures every day, supported by his family and friends. Like others with the chronic disease, Sierra says, “He gets sad but through his experiences, learns that he’s no less than anyone else. Rascal goes to school, goes hiking, and spends time with his family, but he also attends an NF support picnic and goes to the hospital. It’s representing NF patients to those who don’t have NF, to give them a better understanding and for people with NF to have someone to relate to,” she says of Rascal, who is also portrayed as a brave raccoon. “This book talks about the different aspects of NF, especially the anxiety of feeling different than your peers. There’s a lot of hospital visits so there are many things that would be hard for kids to understand who don’t have NF,” she tells that through her childhood, she underwent a variety of treatments including chemotherapy. 

The book is published through Amazon, and currently the NF organization ( is in the process of reviewing the book to verify its information. Sierra’s plan is to provide the books free of charge to children with NF, “So everyone with the condition has that as a place to go to if they need it.” Her book is also available as an audiobook. “I reached out to my favorite podcaster, Otis Gray, and asked if he would read the book. He was enthusiastic and super excited about it,” Sierra tells. Gray took it further, putting it on his Instagram story podcast and telling his many subscribers to buy and read the book. 

In her sophomore year of high school, Sierra underwent treatment to remove a plexiform tumor, which left her exhausted with no energy. It was then she discovered that baking was a tremendous therapy that helped her with recovery. She now plans to combine baking and psychology at JWU as her majors with the goal of helping others with chronic illnesses while teaching them to bake as a therapeutic coping mechanism.

Sierra has recently completed her second children’s book, a sequel called Rascal the Racoon’s Adventures with NF, Surgery Time! which explores the anxiety of getting put to sleep for surgery. “Rascal’s really anxious and scared but the doctors and the nurse staff put him at ease,” she says of the fully illustrated book with an expected release date by summer’s end this year. She wants NF kids to feel less alone. “I really struggled with it when I was younger. I really needed a character like a Rascal when I was younger. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I want kids to know it’s not their fault and there is a support system to get them through things. It can cause you to think differently.” She explains that often times, NF will lead to other things developing, like a learning disability, which Sierra experienced.

This summer Sierra is back home in Crested Butte, working at Bonez and volunteering at PAWS. She also babysits. “I hope to take my charges out for some little adventures,” she smiles. “I still have my moments but everyone does. I’ve learned how to cope with NF and I find positivity in it all.” 

You can find Rascal the Racoon’s NF Adventures on Amazon, Instagram and at

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