Teen with cerebral palsy plans to retrace the path of WWII soldiers

By Moriah Balingit

Veterans often have been a source of inspiration for Kimberly Ortiz.

Kimberly, 16, a sophomore at the District’s Woodrow Wilson High School, has cerebral palsy and has crossed paths with disabled military veterans at Adaptive Adventure Day, when veterans — some with disabilities — volunteer to help disabled children participate in sports. And Kimberly, who walks with a limp, said she is energized when she sees veterans conquer their challenges.

Now she will have a chance to retrace the steps of American soldiers who landed on the beaches of Normandy as part of a special program that is slated to bring high schoolers to France in June to study D-Day. The Columbia Heights teen was selected as one of 15 students to attend the program along with her English and history teacher, Eden McCauslin, impressing the selection committee with her passion for history and her determination.

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Spinal Surgery can’t keep Ramsey Girl off the Court

By Minjae Park

Just as her favorite basketball player, Kobe Bryant, nears retirement, 11-year-old Marina Pellicciari is entering a new phase in her career.

After a spinal surgery in the summer, Marina, who has cerebral palsy, spent hours in grueling inpatient rehabilitation in her effort to re-learn how to walk. Now, the sprightly, athletically minded Ramsey girl is back on the basketball court, where she loves to be, hounding opposing players when they have the ball.

“I love defense,” she said. “Being aggressive and just grabbing the ball from other people.”

She bounced back from surgery far more quickly than doctors expected. One year to return to baseline, they said. She reached that in four months. The cane and walker she came back to school with in September sit tucked away in the nurse’s office.

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