Kelsie Colligan is described by her mother, Mitzi Chauvin, as “a miracle child.”
Born with one kidney and undeveloped lungs, Colligan was given less than a 50-percent chance to live for 24 hours by her doctors.
Fortunately, they later discovered that she only had fluid on her lungs, and her one kidney was functioning. She spent two weeks in the NICU, where doctors discovered that she was deaf.
At five months old, Kelsie had the first of two surgeries to repair a hole in her heart.
She heard her first sounds at 15 months old after receiving a cochlear implant in her right ear. (She is deaf in her left ear.)
Colligan flourished as a LEAP Connect SPEC student at St. Amant High and has a passion for bowling. She is The Advocate’s Girls Special Olympics Athlete of the Year.
“Kelsie has been through some major obstacles in her life, but there is nothing that she can’t do once she puts her mind to it,” St. Amant special education teacher Chris Babin Gibson said. “This is a very special young lady who loves school and spending time with her family and friends. She especially loves competing in Special Olympics and hopes to do so for many years to come.”
A 19-year-old junior, Colligan earned gold medals in bowling at the Special Olympics state meet in 2017 and 2019. She won a bronze medal in 2018 and averages a score of 70.
“Kelsie loves to bowl for fun and practices often with family and friends,” Gibson said.
Colligan has competed the last three years at the Special Olympics Capital Area Athletics Meet. She has two gold medals and one silver in the standing long jump. She has also competed in the 50-meter run, the softball distance throw and horseshoes.
“Kelsie is ecstatic about winning this award,” Chauvin said. “She’s excited about meeting (keynote speaker) Drew Brees. I can’t thank the St. Amant teachers enough.”
Gibson said Colligan is a friendly person who blends in with the other students and is in an adaptive academic program at her level.
“I’m so proud of where Kelsie started to where she is now,” Gibson said. “She was kind of closed in when she came to us. Now she has soared. Her mom, Mitzi ... also deserves a lot of credit.”