By Alyssa Schnugg
Lafayette High graduate Case Kennedy recently received the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award from both the local and state chapters of the Exchange Club.
He is now in the running to win the $15,000 national award.
The ACE program recognizes high school students who have made a dramatic change in their attitude and performance during their high school years. These changes have enabled the students to overcome adversities and prepare for graduation.
Born at 29 weeks, Kennedy was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and has overcome many obstacles in his life in order to become independent, such as learning to dress, walk and school management.
Kennedy had to write two essays. The first was “What was the greatest accomplishment in your life that you are most proud if,” and the second was, “What are your plans for making your community and the world a better place?
Kennedy’s answer to the first question was something he did in October when he completed driver’s training to use hand controls and learning to drive independently. His second essay was on his goal to become an internal medicine doctor.
“My plan is to explain a patient’s diagnosis so they understand and be there to comfort them and show them compassion and to spread kindness throughout the world,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy will be starting his freshman year at the University of Mississippi. He plans to attend medical school after he earns his bachelor’s degree in biology.
“This is such an honor to have the district winner from our club. Case is a phenomenal young man and so deserving,” said Oxford Exchange President Denise Strub.
At the time of this birth, his parents, Rocky and Leslie Kennedy, were told their son would be mentally challenged and would never walk. When he turned 1, his doctors confirmed Cerebral Palsy and he began multiple therapies and injections to alleviate stiffness in his muscles with little effect.
Kennedy’s parents began researching doctors and treatments and finally discovered a doctor at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who would eventually perform a surgery, called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy. This procedure cut the nerves in the spine in the hope the muscles would be retrained to work better.
“I would say that Case’s positive attitude and outlook on life, determination and faith have been the reason he has overcome so much,” said Oxford Exchange member Kat King, who nominated Kennedy for the award.
Kennedy’s application for the national award will be considered among 25 other honorees from Exchange districts around the country.
The recipient of the scholarship will be announced on July 14 at the National Exchange Club convention in Phoenix.