This Month's Featured Family!
March 2006

Erin Ashely
Born March 2, 1987
Bilateral Cleft Lip and Palate
(Seen here at the NACFC with Barbara Kammerer Quayle)
Although this article was written by Erin herself, she likes the feel and readability of writing in the third person narrative style.

Erin Ashley is nineteen years old with a gorgeous soul.

She was born March 2, 1987 with a bilateral cleft lip and palate into the arms of her mother and father, Debbie and Robert Oliver.  Although Erin came into this world with a facial difference, it did not stop her from making friends, achieving her goals, and becoming the bright young woman she is today.

Erin was born into a loving family who taught her everything from right and wrong to never giving up on herself or what she believes in.  At an early age, Erin’s two older brothers showed her how to be strong and stick up for herself when others may bring her down.  Erin was teased from before she even took her first step.  Children and adults stared and made comments which, in turn, affected not only her but the rest of her family.
As Erin grew older she finally started realizing the emotional impact her peers had on her.  Middle school was the toughest for Erin to get through.  With her outgoing and comical personality she made many friends, but teasing escalated to the extreme, to the point that most others wouldn’t even call it teasing anymore.

She would go home and cry herself to sleep some nights; she would lock herself in her room to read, write, and occasionally play a video game or two. She was at a point in her life where she didn’t even want to wake up to go to school, but she did because she knew she had to.

It was time to be strong.

As high school approached, Erin decided it was time to change not only her appearance (she tended to be a little tom-boyish), but her attitude about people and life itself.  Not everything or everyone in the world is bad, hurtful, angry.  She told herself there is some
bad in every good person and some good in every bad person.  Erin was hoping this outlook would help her keep her head held high.

She walked into her first class on the first day of high school and felt that everyone was staring at her.  Erin sat down, looked around, and realized that no one really gave two cents about who she was, what she looked like, or even that she was ten minutes late.

High school, it turned out, was the complete opposite of the madness she had just gone through only months before in middle school.  It seemed that most everyone grew up; they seemed to mind their own business, and the few that didn’t were the ones who never would.  They were the same kids who sat in the chair in the principal’s office more than three times a week, the same kids who never succeeded at anything, and who never even planned to.  Is that cool?  Does that make you a good person?
She’d later learn that those kids were the same faces she saw on the Channel 3 news two years later, arrested for the same behavior they exhibited in middle school.  Those who once teased and bullied her were now serving time for taking teasing and bullying to the extreme...luckily, she was not the target of their physical attack on a local teen.

Finally, Erin started realizing that the cliché is true...what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.  She believes that the same people who treated her so poorly throughout her teenage years really made her the amazing person she is today.  They gave her the strength to be a better person, the courage to do anything she sets her mind to, and thankfully, the ability to talk to others who go through the same difficulties.
Knowing that someone will not always be able to walk with her and hold her hand through life, Erin took it upon herself to become more responsible and to handle things as an adult.  She bought her first car herself and finished high school six months early with a better than 3.0 GPA.  Only one week after graduating, Erin began college with hopes and dreams of becoming a pharmacist one day. In the meantime she found a better job, making more money, and decided to move out on her own to face the “real world”.

Now, a young adult, Erin is more mature than most kids her age.  She is the life of the party and never fails to make everyone laugh.  She’ll talk to anybody and everybody to make a new friend, and will go out of her way just to make someone’s day.
She keeps her head held high wherever she goes to show that not one person in this world can hold her down, or keep her back from doing what she is capable of doing.

Erin thanks the so-called “cool kids” back in school, who thought it was funny to put down others in front of their friends. Because if it wasn’t for their hurtful words and obnoxious actions, she wouldn’t be the outgoing, caring, beautiful, strong-willed, easy-going, fun young lady she is today.
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