Annysia Kennell

We are Lincoln High


Annysia Kennel, 10. Photo by Angel Tran and Meg Boedeker.

By Audrey Perry

As you walk down the halls of Lincoln High every day, it is likely that most of the people you see are new faces – a person you’ve never seen before.

What is impossible for us to know is the incredible stories that everyone has to tell. For example, Annysia Kennell may seem like an average freshman. She is involved in choir and loves to sing all the time. She also spends time reading and drawing.

What you don’t know is that outside of school and throughout her life she has faced many struggles in her family.

Annysia grew up in Lincoln and has since lived with her mom and two younger brothers, who are 11 and 12. When I sat down to talk with her about her life experiences, the one she recalls as being the most defining in her life happened when she was in second grade.

One day as she was getting ready for school when her mother who was in her twenties at the time collapsed and wasn’t able to get up. She described it as one of the scariest moments of her life.

“A couple summers ago, she had an MS [Multiple Sclerosis] attack, it was really bad. At first she was okay, but soon she started failing,” Kennell said. “She got more and more upset, and led to more MS attacks. She had to be on a breathing machine. She couldn’t say anything, she couldn’t talk all she could do was wave her hands. When she was able to talk again all she said was ‘go away.’”

This sudden health event was due to her mother’s condition of Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that causes the immune system to eat away at the covering of the nerves. Attacks can occur any time and cause a range of symptoms including muscle paralysis. This is what happened to Kennell’s mother.

“When she couldn’t get back up, that’s how long she’s been in a wheelchair,” Kennell said.

Kennell reflected on one particular experience when her mother, ”[She] almost died and they couldn’t get her heart to keep going, and she was having a hard time breathing,” Kennell said.

Soon after in the following summers, her mother had a series of attacks that caused her to be hospitalized. “She can straighten her arm kind of,” Kennell said. “She’s getting stronger right now, but it took her a while to learn how to feed herself.”

From this sequence of events and every moment after, Kennell’s life completely turned around. She and her family adjusted to the changes in their daily lives. Even though the situation was very difficult, the situation was made easier by Kennell’s relationship with her mom.

“I have a very close bond with my mom,” Kennell said. When asked to describe her mom her eyes lit up.

”She’s very goofy and she’s a very childlike mom,” Kennell said. “She is an adult, but she doesn’t know how to and sometimes she tells us to stop, but I respect that. We tease each other a lot and she thinks it’s fun.”

One of the challenges that Kennell faces daily is not being able to do things with her mom that other children get to do. “I hated that my mom could not walk around and take me places, she couldn’t do all that mother stuff that every other kid had,” Kennell said. “It was really hard on me.”

In eighth grade Kennell started to recognize how other people’s judgements about others really takes effect.

“Kids would make fun of me because my mom was in a wheelchair and their mom can walk around,” Kennell said. “I was so stressed out about everything and I could not take it anymore.”

Kennell recognized the pain that other people’s judgements could have and decided to turn the situation into a learning experience on how to be a better person.

“This has shaped me as a better person to respect people. You can’t just judge someone by their looks; you have to know their story,” Kennell said. “It was really hard at first to keep doing that, but after awhile I got used to it.”

Through her experiences, Kennell has come to God because of her experiences. At first, “I hated God for what he’d done to me,” Kennell said. “I hated him for putting this experience on me. After awhile I learned to accept it.”

When learning how to respect others and seeing how her mother had survived her attacks she was grateful.

”She was back again, and my whole family thought that it was a miracle from God. He saved her. We sat there and we prayed and prayed and we prayed that she would be okay.”

After years of trials she has come to terms with her situation.

“After awhile I learned to accept it. It’s okay to have my mother in a wheelchair. It’s okay that she can’t do normal things with me,” Kennell said. “She tries to do as much as she can with me.”

Part of her overall experience has taught Kennell to look at life from a different perspective. She noticed the simple struggles of others and tried to turn her skills into something that could do good. Kennell saw her mother struggle with proper clothing as she had a catheter and the same with her sister, who has caudal regression syndrome which caused her legs to be amputated when she was 10 months old.

“No one makes clothes for people who don’t have legs or people who don’t have arms,” Kennell said. “I started thinking what about if I starting making clothes for those people, change the situation around so that others start making clothes for other disabled people, too.”

Kennell now takes sewing lessons and is continuing to draw sketches that she hopes will turn into reality someday. All of this is in hope to make the best out her situation while also taking action in the love she has for her mom.

“She’s not a perfect mother, but to me she is perfect,” Kennell said. “She’s the best mother you could ask for!”