Chelsea Petty

chelsea_pettyChelsea Petty has had to grow up quickly. Life has dealt her many challenges that other teens her age would never think of dealing with at such a young age.

During her freshman year, Chelsea’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. A rough road was ahead. Not only did she watch her mother deal with the pain of radiation treatment and shaving her head because her hair was falling out in handfuls, she learned in June 2006 that her mother faced a new illness, brain cancer. The tumors took their toll as her mom experienced brain damage, loss of speech and motor skills. Her mother lost her battle with cancer on November 21, 2007.

Through it all, Chelsea remained dedicated to her family. She held a job, working as many hours as the law would allow in order to help support her family’s income. Her step-father, a truck driver, was rarely home and a gambling problem resulted in losing the family’s home. As the family rented a smaller house, Chelsea struggled to keep the utilities paid. Her older step-brother would help care for her mother at times, but DUI convictions led to losing his license and work because of the loss of transportation. Chelsea helped take care of him too, driving him to court dates and mandatory meetings.

Chelsea was no longer a typical teenager able to hang out with friends or go to ballgames. Instead she was the head woman of the household. Even though her time was stretched thin and she faced so many unfortunate situations, one thing remained constant – Chelsea’s focus on education.

From the very beginning of the first cancer diagnosis, Chelsea’s mother impressed upon her the importance of doing her best in school. As her mother fought through tremendous pain, she tried to help and encourage Chelsea with her schoolwork. Her mother knew an education would make Chelsea’s dreams possible.

Chelsea has challenged herself taking Advance Placement classes, serving as an active member in BETA, National Honor Society, NOAH’s Promise and Science Club. She is ranked sixth in her graduating class.

Chelsea’s goal is to become a doctor and to save lives. As she pursues this goal she will continue to remember her mother’s wishes. As Chelsea said so eloquently, “My mother may not be here with me now but I know she will always be the reason that I push through any obstacles that may be in my way. She will always be a reminder to me that if I truly want something, nothing can stop me.”