Bio: Schlough, Chelsey receives ‘You Inspire Us!’ Award (2021)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Schlough, Laschen, Hopfensperger, Popp, McFarlane, Moore, Lobner, Frenette, Hefko, Morrow

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 12/29/2021

Schlough receives ‘You Inspire us!’ Award (2021)

Chelsey Schlough is shown with her former teacher Ester Hopfensperger after receiving the
“You Inspire Us!” award in a short ceremony at the house of Mercy in Loyal Dec. 18.
Valorie Brecht/Clark County Press

By Valorie Brecht

Some individuals inspire others by how they live their lives to the fullest despite having a disability.

In a ceremony Dec. 18, Loyal’s Tractors for Autism and Disabilities (TFAD) organization honored one such individual. Chelsey Schlough of Loyal received the “You Inspire Us!” award.

“There are youth and young adults out there who have done unreal, beautiful things. We wanted to honor you with this award because you inspire us to do more with our group,” said Mary Laschen of TFAD.

Schlough has cerebral palsy (CP), a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It can also affect coordination and development. However, Schlough has not let CP prevent her from accomplishing great things in life, including writing and publishing a book with her cousin.

Schlough’s former teacher Esther Hopfensperger presented Schlough with her award.

“Every year we recognize those who have taken significant steps to improve themselves and their community, and you are one of those people,” said Hopfensperger. “You went to college and got help from teachers, professors and Mrs. [Nancy] Popp. You made of us very proud.”

Schlough had some issues in school growing up but did not let that deter her from seeking higher education. She attended UW-Marshfield/Wood County (now known as UW-Stevens Point at Marshfield) and planned to study journalism but changed her focus to creative writing. She found an outlet for her creativity through her fantasy novel, “Abaddon: The Animal Kingdom,” published in 2015. The book is based on a game that Schlough and her cousin James McFarlane used to play when they were children. After they out-grew the fame, they decided to write a book based on the fantasy world they invented.

Chelsey Schlough, with her cousin James McFarlane, wrote and published “Abaddon: The Animal Kingdom,” with both editions shown above. Valorie Brecht/Clark County Press

“You and your cousin James worked very hard to write your book. And it’s such a good book; it shows your creativity. I’m so impressed on how you pulled all the fantasy animals and people together,” said Hopfensperger.

“From where you started out when we met to where you are now, you’ve grown so much. Growing up, you were shy and timid but always strong. You were a trooper through all those hospital visits,” Hopfensperger added.

Schlough got past her shyness to the point where she now is thriving at a job at Mason Companies that requires her to talk to customers on the phone all day. She finished her second year there Nov. 23.

“I have tons of different stories from my job. Every day is different,” said Schlough. “I started out on orders and then three months in, they put you on service calls. At first, I was seasonal, and then every time they needed someone, I volunteered. So they made me full-time.”

She said finding her current position did not come without difficulties, though.

“I would encourage them [people with a disability] to never give up and keep trying, because for the longest time I kept getting discouraged because so many people turned me down. But then when I applied at Mason, they said, ‘You definitely have the things we’re looking for’ and ‘we’ll be in touch.’ Well after I got home, not even an hour later they called me back and told me I got the job.”

She extended her appreciation to Eric at the Opportunity Development Center for going “above and beyond” to help her find a job and taking her to job shadows.

She also extended her gratitude to her entire family for supporting her, and to McFarlane specifically for his help on the book. She also thanked her grandma.

“My grandma, anytime I would get down or discouraged, she told me to keep going,” said Schlough.

She felt honored to receive the award and said it was a “total and complete surprise.”

Other recipients of “You Inspire Us!” have included Anna Moore, Jacob Lobner and Mindi Frenette and Krysten Hefko and Erika Morrow posthumously.



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