Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 15, 2013

East Carter freshman will get up-close look at Lady Liberty

ASHLAND — Morgan Jones has had a passion and curiosity about the Statue of Liberty for as long as she can remember.

The 14-year-old freshman at East Carter High School — and her family — will soon be getting an up-close view of the iconic national monument in the New York Harbor.

Jones’ wish is coming true though the efforts of the Lexington Dream Factory, an organization who makes dreams come true for children who are either terminally ill or have a chronic disease.

Jones has Glutaric Acidemia Type II (GA2), a disorder that prevents her body from breaking down fat and proteins. It is a genetic disorder that will be with her for a lifetime, her mother said.

She has to eat every three hours to make sure there is always glucose in her body and her immune system can be affected.

“Flu season is very scary for us,” said her mother, April Keelin. “We have to regulate her diet and watch what she eats.”

Morgan doesn’t complain about her illness, her mother said. She enjoys school, where she is a straight-A student and plays trombone in the high school band. There are not many days she doesn’t have a smile on her face, April said.

“She never complains,” her mother said. “She can’t eat most of what we eat and never says a word about it. I really think she’s an inspiration to a lot of people. I know she inspires me.”

Morgan’s disorder is extremely rare, Keelin said. Her daughter is one of only “40 or 50 people in the whole world” who suffers from the illness.

“When she was little, she was in the hospital a lot,” Keelin said. “She’s been pretty healthy the past couple of years.”

Keelin applied for the “wish” from the Lexington Dream Factory and they learned she had been chosen a couple of months ago. She was offered the opportunity to go anywhere in the United States and chose New York City because of her affection for the Statue of Liberty.

Her room is decorated in Statue of Liberty décor, including several miniature statues. They plan on climbing the 354 steps to the top of the crown where the family will be able to look out over New York City.

“She could have gone anywhere and this is where she decided she wanted to go,” April said. “Her whole room is decorated in Statue of Liberty. She has loved it since third or fourth grade. She has a lot of stuff — statues, blankets, pillows.

“I don’t know why, I’ve just always loved it!” she said. “That’s where I wanted to go.”

The trip will be Oct. 2-6 and the family, April’s husband Todd and two other children, will be coming along. They will also be taking in a Broadway play, “Lion King,” and take a cruise on the Hudson River, Keelin said.

“We’re planning on going to the Empire State Building and Central Park,” she said.

Morgan has been to NYC once before with her father, Chad Jones, for one day, Keelin said. “This time we’re going all the way to the top,” she said.

With only a couple of weeks until the trip, April said the family is preparing for the long climb by taking some turns on the elliptical in their home.

“I hope we can make it,” she said.

Meanwhile, Morgan is beaming about her trip of a lifetime. She also recently took second place in the state in the “Yes I Can” demonstration speech competition through the 4-H. She will be going to Louisville in November to accept the award.

“Even with all these problems, she is the happiest kid I know,” her mother said. “We’re very proud of her.”

Keelin, who is a music teacher at East Carter, said her kindergarten teacher Brenda Barnhill and Missy Pennington, who has been Morgan’s personal aide since first grade, should receive the credit for Morgan’s love of school. “I look forward to going to school,” she said.

Besides school, she is also involved with the youth group at Unity Baptist Church, where she plays in the church orchestra.

Keelin said Morgan was diagnosed with the disorder when she was 3½ years old. They began running tests on her at 5½ months but, because of the rarity of the disorder, couldn’t confirm the diagnosis for three years.

“We were at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for two weeks (when she was 5½ months and they treated her when we left as if she had this disorder,” Keelin said. “But it took that long to get the definitive test back. They had made the right call.”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.


Text Only
Local News
  • jeremymccombs.jpg Jeremy McComb enjoys Tri-State's limelight

    Jeremy McComb’s career has been a wild ride, especialy in the last week.
    The lead single from his latest album was released on iTunes last week and it was a huge success right from the start.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Festival to showcase new plays

    The ACTC New Play Festival will feature 10 student and faculty written plays (short scenes, monologues, ten-minutes, one acts) that will premiere at 8 p.m. April 25 and 26 and at 2:30 p.m. April 27 at J.B. Sowards Theater on campus.

    April 17, 2014

  • 0420mongol1.JPG A ride to remember

    Riding 50 miles a day is no big deal to Amy Whelan.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418melodies.jpg Melodies & Masterpieces returns Friday

    Anyone strolling through downtown Ashland at lunchtime Friday will have a chance to enjoy the artistry of one of the area’s most-respected guitarists as Chris Kitchen kicks off the return of the Melodies & Masterpieces series on Judd Plaza.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418odell.jpg MSU professor appointed state geographer

    Dr. Gary O’Dell, a professor of physical geography at Morehead State University, was named state geographer in January.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill to benefit AK Steel

    During the 11th hour of the General Assembly, a bill extending important sustainable incentives for AK Steel’s Ashland Works was pushed through for approval Tuesday night.
    House Bill 483 was created to extend the plant's incentives provided by the Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act in 2004.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pathways begins autism services

    Pathways has extended its community outreach in a big way by providing services for families facing autism.
    Lena Harmon, central director for the company's Kentucky Impact Youth Council, said these services can save families the trouble of being added to long queue lines in Cincinnati and Louisville.
    Harmon said she has heard some families testify having to wait up to 12 months for appointments in faraway cities.

    April 16, 2014

  • Russell academic new dean at OUS

    Nicole Pennington chose a two-year community college degree track in 1991 because she wanted to enter the nursing work force with as little delay as possible.

    April 16, 2014

  • 1936 Indian lasting wedding gift

    When it came time to present his future wife with a symbol of his undying devotion, Virgil Erskine gave her a 1936 Indian motorcycle instead of a diamond ring.
    “I’ve always called it my wedding present. It’s my diamond ring,” said Charlene Erskine, explaining she and her husband were married at Sturgis, S.D., in 1983, found the antique Indian Sport Scout in 1984 and had it restored and on the road in 1985.

    April 16, 2014

  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone