My name is Katye. I am 16 years old and cannot believe that I’m going to say, “I am a teen with an incomplete cleft palate!” Obviously, like so many of us who were born with cleft palate, I was premature and did not even realize the palate damage until I was fourteen years old. Most of my childhood was spent hearing people say they couldn’t understand what I was saying, and when I cried, it was really difficult to understand me.
During my young teen years, I kept getting bad sinus infections. Finally, my pediatrician did an MRI to see why. This is when I was told that I not only had sinuses that were not open but also, I had a cleft palate. I went through extensive sinus and palate surgery the summer before I started high school. After the surgery, I can remember smelling things and tasting things like never before.
Miss Pennsylvania Teenager 2011
Recently, I was crowned Miss Pennsylvania Teenager. My parents have gotten me a speech coach and the neat thing about the American Dream pageant system is that you are not judged on your disability (if you have one) but rather what you have accomplished with it. My voice may not be like everyone else’s, but thanks to this pageant, it can and will be heard. My mom bought me a cleft palate bear as my new inspiration to not let my voice get in the way of my goals. I also read Hailey’s Story on the Cleft Palate Foundation’s website and found out that my voice may not be such a bad thing; there are even scholarships for kids like us.
One of my biggest goals in life is to be a women’s health physician. In the meantime, I plan to use my title to spread the word about those of us with cleft lip and palate. Hopefully, by raising awareness, I can also increase the sensitivity that people have for kids like us. Please feel free to contact me by email – I’d love to talk to you! I will write back! I hope my story can bring inspiration to you as you are all an inspiration to me.
To read more about Katye, please visit her website.
Last Updated: Feb 2, 2011