Overcoming the Obstacles, One Adaptation at a Time



Sonya Newman

The Ashland Beacon

   ‘When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.’  It may be a phrase we all use, but it’s rare to see someone actually living it out.  Those who know Katie Looney, can most assuredly attest to this.  She does more than say the phrase: she lives every moment of her life mixing and stirring the sweetest concoction that ever emerged from all her life’s seemingly insurmountable obstacles and smiling as she serves it.  She was born with Spina Bifida, which limits mobility because of nerve damage to the spinal cord, but that hasn’t stopped her at all.  If anything, it highlights her resourcefulness. 

   October was Spina Bifida awareness month, and Katie has been working tirelessly to raise money for the Annual Spina Bifida Association fundraiser. She will continue her fundraising through Decem-ber.  While there is no cure for Spina Bifida, Katie is clear in stating, “It’s close to my heart. I wish there was a fix for that maybe with medicine and the advances that they make every day.”  She continued, “Certainly, they’ll come up with something soon in the future.  It’s one of those things that’s just kind of in God’s hands.  If He plans for there to be some kind of fix for that, He’ll make that happen. If not, I can be a witness and I can be somebody who shows everybody this is the hand I’ve been dealt and just deal with it.” 

   Even from the very beginning, God was at the center of her life.  “Even before I was born, people from my parent’s church all were praying for me,” Looney began, “and by the grace of God, I came out the way that I did, and there’ve been a lot of people who’ve not been as fortunate as I.  So, I’m blessed and thankful for that.” She credits her parents and their commitment to God and family as a strong foundation and notes her two younger brothers are always supportive.  Even with a strong support system, she candidly admits “I’m not really one who likes to ask for help. I want to do things for myself.” Katie elaborated, “It’s not really a pride thing, I just don’t want to look weak.  That’s still a challenge for me. It’s something I still struggle with.”  

   In addition to her family, her support system has grown into more.  Now, she’s in a relationship. “I adore him, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” she shared, noting, “He encourages me in every way, inspires me to do better. He pushes me to my limit. He knows I can do anything.  It’s so good for me to have that.” 

   Nearly finished with her student teaching, Katie is currently preparing to achieve another milestone: graduation from college.  “I will be finished in December and graduate officially. I’m so excited to say that,” she proclaimed.   She will graduate through a joint program offered at ACTC through Morehead State University.  When finished, she’ll have a dual certification in P-5 and P-12 Special Education.  

   As busy as she is, Katie still makes time for photography, modeling, singing, family, and is active in church with youth, but it’s her blog on Instagram that has catapulted her to a rock star status with over 10,000 followers. “I wanted to showcase on my platforms all the things that I’m able to do,” said Katie.  What started as a means to share the ways she’s adapted to do what everyone else does, has become a widely followed resource for others in learning how to adapt and overcome their circumstances.  Katie’s car is adapted to allow her to drive using her hands instead of her feet. She hopes to soon tackle the world of adapted workouts, regardless of physical limitation or dependence on a walker or wheelchair, both of which she uses.  Celebrity may have always been in the cards for Katie, as she was the poster child for the Shriners in 2009, and more recently, she was featured this summer in a London, England publication called, ‘Authentic Magazine.’  

   Sifting through the many things that drive Katie Looney, somewhere in the middle at the core there is a source of inspiration for everybody who ever told themselves, ‘I can’t.’  Katie was never supposed to do all she has done, but she did it anyway.  She concluded, “This is how I get through life. I can do and be just like anybody else.”

   You can follow Katie’s remarkable story day by day through her Instagram (@KreativeKate_) or through her blog: https://bluegrassbloggerbabe.wordpress.com/