FREEPORT — Kathy Stilkey has lived with cerebral palsy since she was a child, but she hasn’t let it prevent her from pursuing her dreams.
This fall, Stilkey, 18, will attend the University of Maine at Farmington to pursue an education and career in acting.
Stilkey said she has loved acting since her performance in “Much Ado About Nothing” her freshman year at Freeport High School, and was thrilled to play a role in the schools’ one-act play this spring. She said she enjoys her drama classes, and if she is “lucky enough” she will move to California or New York to find acting work after college.
“I’m a believer that things do happen and dreams do come true if you work hard enough,” she said.
Cerebral palsy forces Stilkey to use crutches, but she navigates the halls of the high school with strength and speed. She does not let the disease get in her way, and is a happy and bubbly teen.
Beth Paterson, a drama teacher at the high school, said Stilkey is an exceptional person.
“Kathy is kind and always smiling,” she said. “She puts forth her best effort and takes risks. She is a wonderful role model for others.”
Paterson said Stilkey participated in her drama classes and did a great job.
“She may have a disability, but she is more able than most,” Paterson said.
In order to help her to drive like other teens, Jobs for Maine Graduates and the service club raised money to purchase hand controls for Stilkey’s car, a luxury her family could not afford.
“I am eternally grateful to them,” she said. “Their willingness to help me is amazing.”
Guidance Counselor Paula Smith said Stilkey is an outstanding person who does not let her situation stop her from doing anything.
“She is a giving and caring person who volunteers her time to help others,” Smith said. “She has grown into herself in the four years at Freeport High School and I am proud of her accomplishments.”
Stilkey said she has volunteered at the Coastal Humane Society, and is a member of the Young Life Christian Group.
“My friends watch out for me,” she said. “But over the four years here, I have become more confident and have grown academically. I have proved to people and myself that I can do it.”
Stilkey said she is taking her life one day at a time, and is enjoying who she has become.
“There have been a lot of changes since my freshman year,” she said. “But I think I have grown into my own and am more comfortable being me.”