By: Michele Kovack
My daughter Cortney recently turned 20. She has moderate/severe cerebral palsy. Her journey of modeling started about 4 years ago. Being her mom, I always thought she was pretty and had a natural love for the camera. But I am her mom. Four years ago, someone on Facebook contacted me about her becoming a model. That’s when Cortney’s journey began.
She was photographed by several well-known Chicago photographers, was featured on WGN news, and got a few odd jobs modeling for boutiques and Etsy shops. She got her big break last May when Cerebral Palsy Family Network posted a picture collage of Cortney. It put her out there and let people and companies know that this girl of mine wanted to model. She had a dream like most teenage girls, and her life went from ordinary to extraordinary.
She was contacted by numerous small companies, was featured on a California commercial for an adaptive clothing line, “walked” the runway in Branson, MO, and was the first disabled teenager to grace the cover of Chicago’s Special Parent magazine. She is now represented by a KMR Talent agency in California and Model Source magazine.
Cortney is not only physically disabled but also mentally impaired. This journey has given her so much joy. She flourishes in the attention and adores dressing up and being in front of the camera. It has given her an identity. She struggled with who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. Most things are extremely difficult for her. This was something she was good at, and most importantly enjoyed. People around her started to notice her for something other than her disability.
I started a Facebook page to document her journey about 6 months ago. Social media is a powerful tool! It has gotten her “out there” a bit more. Her latest dream is to model for Sadie Robertson’s new line of modest prom dresses designed by Sherri Hill. Fingers crossed that Cortney grabs their attention!
As for me, her mom, it has given us something to enjoy together. Every parent wants that. Whether it is watching your child play a sport, instrument etc., I lacked that for a very long time. (Unless you count endless doctor’s appointments or therapy.) It has become “our” time. Dressing up, putting on makeup, fixing her hair. It may sound trite, but to her….to me…it is everything.
As a parent, I truly believe you have to advocate for your child. Listen to their dreams and run with it. Be the “squeaky wheel” if you will. I have been persistent…and sometimes annoying, but it has paid off. I don’t know where Cortney will end up with all of this. But that’s okay. We are enjoying the ride. Together.