I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to, Cortney. She came into this world 19 years ago. We anticipated bringing a healthy baby girl into this world. We didn’t know otherwise until at 2 months old the doctor noticed she was unable to focus. After numerous doctor’s visits, she was diagnosed with cortical blindness. It was a difficult pill to swallow, but after getting over the initial shock, we decided that no matter what she will have a full life with many opportunities. Blindness wouldn’t stop this beautiful girl! Months went by and she was extremely floppy. She couldn’t hold her head up and always leaned to one side. The neurologist diagnosed her with “developmental delay.” We started her in therapy right away. We started genetic testing with many, many doctors, and always came up empty handed. They finally at the age of 3, surmised that she had Cerebral Palsy. At about the age of 5 we noticed her “zoning” out a lot. Doctors discovered she also had a seizure disorder. Doctors laid out a very bleak future for our girl. Her academic tests at school laid out a bleak future for her. She was behind in everything. And as she got older the gap would widen. All of this was devastating and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t having a hard time accepting this. After some crying, lashing out, and anger, my husband and I made the decision, just as we had when she had only been diagnosed with cortical blindness, that she WILL have the same opportunities as any other child. We would expose her to everything we could. Cortney has many limitations and needs help with her daily activities, but one thing we noticed at an early age is her love for the camera. She just beamed!
She is now in high school, loves to swim, cheer leads for two teams, belongs to her school choir, loves hanging out with her friends and family, and is a bit crafty! She has traveled extensively and even has a passport.
Like many other teens she has a dream. She would like to model. This hasn’t been the easiest of dreams to pursue though. Modeling is a tough industry, especially for one who is confined to a wheelchair. But fortunately for us, social media has helped get her “out there.” She grabbed the attention of Cerebral Palsy Family Network, last May, and since then she has had some wonderful opportunities come her way. She has modeled for various Etsy shops, boutiques, professional photographers, has done a wheelchair ad, has graced the covers of two magazines, been on TV for WGN news, and best of all she got to “walk” the runway for a Runway LOUD event this past August. She has loved every minute of it and thrives on the attention! For the first time in her life she has attracted attention for something positive! She isn’t done though”¦her ultimate dream is to model prom dresses or model for a national brand! And why not? People with disabilities represent the largest minority group in America! Why shouldn’t they be represented? We started a FB page a few months ago for her to showcase her modeling journey. Check out Cortneys Facebook page here!
Since doing this we have over a thousand followers and a ton of supporters! She has inspired many people and ultimately changing how people look at disabilities. She is a sweet, loving young woman who has big dreams! She has a lot to share with the world! She inspires me every single day. I hope she inspires you too!
Michele – Cortneys Mom