Kelsey Norris has spent her entire life overcoming obstacles. She was found in a Russian orphanage when she was 11 months old weighing less than 14 pounds. Alone, sick, starving and emaciated, her head had been shaved due to lice. She was dressed in rags and had never worn a diaper. The doctors did not know if she would ever walk or talk. When the doctors at the orphanage told her prospective mother that Kelsey was a special needs child and they could not guarantee that she would ever walk or talk. She told them that she didn't care about that because she loved Kelsey and wanted to be her mother.
Together, Kelsey and her new mother worked to overcome challenges. Along the way, they have experienced barriers and learned that not everyone is kind and not everyone believes in value of all God's children, adoption and caring for the less fortunate. Through faith and determination, they have proven that "family" isn't necessarily who you are biologically related to. Instead, "family" can be anyone who loves and cares about you.
Currently, Kelsey is a nationally recognized 13 year old advocate, community volunteer, beauty queen, author and athlete. Adopted from a Russian orphanage, she has been diagnosed as having autism. Her pageant platform is "Special Needs Means Special Abilities -- the importance of self-advocacy for individuals with developmental disabilities." She believes that individuals with disabilities can achieve great things in life and make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. When she grows up, she wants to be a role model for others and start her own charitable foundation that will support children with special needs.
During the past year, more than two million people have read the posts and articles about Kelsey's life and achievements that have been published by international autism advocacy organizations, magazines and newspapers. She is a shining example of the potential that exists for every special needs child and their ability to help others and make their communities a better place to live.