Twelve-year-old Abby, defies her disabilities by pursuing her passions in art, singing, and performing. Determined to follow her dreams, she joined a local theater group four years ago and has since starred in five productions, including roles in “A Christmas Story” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Abby, the only performer with a disability in her group, refuses to let it limit her abilities. She creatively adapts, matching choreography and set designs with her wheelchair, and truly shines on stage. Through her performances, she shares her talent and passion with audiences ranging from hundreds to thousands every year.
Abby was born with Cerebrocostomandibular Syndrome, a condition that impacts her ribs, lower jaw, and spine. To enhance her lung capacity, she underwent multiple surgeries for her ribs and spine from an early age. At just three months old, after being released from the NICU, Abby and her family joined The Coordinating Center and enrolled in the Model Waiver program to receive essential benefits such as access to Medicaid and services, such as private duty nursing and care coordination.
Abby’s mom Julie says her Clinical Care Coordinator has been incredibly helpful and kind. “She has done so much to get to know Abby, even going as far as coming to one of the musicals she performed in! She is also very eager to help and is always there when I have a question or concern,” said Julie.
In 2020, Abby was in a Halo traction system for several weeks in preparation for a spine fusion to help with her breathing. While removing her previous hardware, Abby suffered a spinal stroke, leading to her needing a tracheostomy, ventilator, and wheelchair, as she became paralyzed from T3 down. To regain her strength, she has dedicated countless hours to physical and occupational therapy sessions.
Abby’s mom Julie says their family mantra is to choose joy. “Whenever something tough happens, we have a choice to be angry or joyful. We try to choose joy in all circumstances!”
When considering joining The Coordinating Center, Julie says, “your case manager is a wealth of knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask them questions! Use your resources because you are not alone in this journey.”
In acknowledgment of Abby’s exceptional efforts to advance inclusivity and diversity within cultural spheres, Abby was honored with the inaugural Rising Star Award. This accolade is part of the Governor’s Disability Culture and Achievements Awards program, established in honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Disability Culture and Achievements Month by the Maryland Department of Disabilities in collaboration with the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council.
See Abby singing here: Abby Video