Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

A Brother's Story

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

A Brother's Story

Article excerpt

Karson Hartz is, in some ways, a typical big brother. He looks out for his little sister, Kenzie, and is proud of her accomplishments. But in other ways, the 14-year-old student at St. Joseph School in Evansville is not typical at all. Kenzie, 10, was born with down syndrome and a host of other problems.

A heart defect kept her in the hospital for months as she struggled to live. She needed a respirator to breathe, and the lack of oxygen caused other developmental problems.

Unlike most people with Down Syndrome, Kenzie can't walk or talk on her own. Karson is a member of his school's speech team as well as its spelling bee champion.

He was just four years old when Kenzie was born, and has grown up with lots of first-hand knowledge of Down Syndrome. So when he wrote a speech for the school team last year, it naturally focused on Kenzie. "It was a speech about her for original oratory," said Karson.

"I got some help from my mom on some of the details. But I wanted other people to learn about Down Syndrome and all of the things that Kenzie can do."

The speech detailed Kenzie's history from the eyes of an older sibling. It also told how the siblings communicate, mostly through sign language.

"I started with what is actually wrong with her, and what she had to go through as a baby with her surgery and everything," said Karson. "And then I talked about all her different therapies and all of the things that she participates in."

When Keri Hartz, Karson and Kenzie's mother, read the speech, she was touched. "Karson is a quiet kid, but I know what a great kid he is," said Keri. "But having Kenzie, I always worried how that affected him.

I was away from him a lot when he was a baby. But after reading his speech, I know he's going to be okay." Keri Hartz sent a copy of the speech to Phyllis Fenneman, Kenzie's physical therapist with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. …

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