By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
NEW COLUMBIA — Kylie Ortity describes herself as energetic, while her mother, Terri Snyder, describes her as fearless.
Ortity, of New Columbia, who graduated from Milton Area High School last week, also lives with cystic fibrosis.
But she is fighting the disease head-on, living life to the fullest and preparing to attend Mansfield University in the fall to study medical technology, a field that will allow her to help other people struggling with genetic diseases, she said.
“I want to be able to find a cure for other diseases that people are born with,” she said.
Ortity on Thursday received a $1,000 scholarship from Snyder Union Mifflin Child Development to help her on her way, said Eileen Thomas, the scholarship committee chairwoman.
The Snyder Union Mifflin Child Development Scholarship For Head Start Graduates was created in 1996 to honor former Head Start students who are continuing their education, Thomas said.
Since then, the scholarship fund has given out more than 50 awards for more than $30,000 — with all money donated by SUMCD staff.
Ortity applied and was happy to see her former Head Start teacher and Head Start foster grandmother at Milton’s awards ceremony Thursday.
“I was so surprised,” she said.
Her mother said the moment brought things full circle for her.
“I was thankful,” she said. “A lot of CF kids don’t make it this far. You don’t know how healthy they’ll be. (I hope) it’ll give other parents hope that their child can come this far.”
When someone has CF, “a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus” which can cause lung infections, among other things, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Medical research has allowed cystic fibrosis patients to live well into their 30s, 40s and beyond.
Ortity takes breathing treatments and precautions to prevent infections, she said, but she has never let the disease get in her way. In school, Ortity was on the Panther Press and student council, and in her spare time enjoys swimming and four-wheeling.
Ortity also received a gift certificate to go skydiving as a graduation gift, she said — something she definitely plans to do.
“You just have to have a positive outlook,” she said. “You never know when things are going to get bad.”
That is her advice to others facing challenges, she said.
“Always be positive,” she said. “Always find the good, even in the bad things.”