Care & Giving: Cortney’s Story — Part One

Care & Giving: Cortney's Story — Part One
Posted on Fri 18 Nov 2022

CARE & GIVING: Cortney’s Story*

In our latest Q&A series, we learn about Cortney, her family, and what inspires her to support CPARF’s work.Here’s the first part of her story.

Tell us about yourself. For example, how would your best friends describe you? What are your hobbies? What do you love to do? What brings you joy? What kinds of things resonate the most with you?

Hello! My name is Cortney Cowley. I am a wife, mom of multiples, and full-time working economist. My favorite person in the word is my husband, Jeremy, who I love and adore with all my heart. We have been married for 13 years, and he is my partner in everything, my best buddy, the realist to my optimist, the one who keeps me grounded, and my simplifier when I am overanalyzing everything. In April 2017, I became a mom and received the two greatest gifts: our twins Scarlett and Ryder. They are now five years old and getting smarter and funnier by the day. I love being a wife and mom!

My friends and family would tell you that I also love to learn. My husband and I both have three degrees, and he works in technical and career education. Therefore, education and early literacy are two of our passions. In my work as an economist, I do research, policy analysis, and outreach related to the agriculture and food sectors by day, and I enjoy reading and writing for fun in the evenings. My favorite things to read are historical fiction and picture books with my kids. Along with my degrees, I would say my greatest academic accomplishment to date was that we read far more than 1,000 books to each of our children by the time they entered kindergarten. 

A man wearing a green and orange plaid button-up shirt, jeans, and cap holds the halter of a small, dark red bull with a white face, chest, stomach, and tail in front of a purple back drop that says “Tulsa State Fair”. To the right in the frame is a little boy holding a sign that says “Reserve Champion Bull, Miniature Hereford, Open Cattle Show”. Behind the man and bull are a woman holding a little girl wearing an orange shirt and a man with a blue shirt, red tie, and black cowboy hat.

In addition to my fondness for books, I am a country girl who finds so much joy being in nature and surrounded by animals. My family lives on a small hobby farm in Oklahoma. We raise and show Miniature Hereford cattle and have two horses, a dog, two cats, two roosters, 11 egg-laying hens, and one baby chick, who is the offspring of my favorite hen — a Naked-Neck Turken named Ostrich. My husband has degrees in agricultural education and equine science. He has a special talent for training and caring for animals, and my special talent is spoiling them rotten, especially my beloved nine-year-old Boxer/Shepherd/Lab rescue dog, Pilot. In fact, my favorite ways to relax include taking Pilot for long walks while listening to audio books, petting our horses and cows, or simply watching the chickens with my kids.

Another thing that brings me great joy is mentoring young adults. Throughout my life, in addition to having a great relationship with my parents, I have benefited from always having outstanding mentors for guidance, advise, and wise council. I try to pass on the help I received by mentoring high school and college students. My husband and I worked in youth ministry for eight years, and we have always spent time volunteering with FFA (formerly known as Futures Farmers of America). I also help high school and college students with scholarship applications, especially if they happen to be attending or planning to attend my alma mater, Oklahoma State University. Go Pokes!

So far, I’ve shared things I love and enjoy doing on the outside, but on the inside, it is my faith that truly drives me. I have a Biblical world view, and so what truly resonates with me is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that God created the world and everything in it, humans rebelled, Jesus died to save us, and we are given a choice of how to respond. My choice has always been and will always be to believe. I have seen far too many miracles and answered prayers in my life, and I see God everywhere and in everything, especially in my children. 

Since becoming a mom, my favorite verse in the Bible is Ephesians 5:1-2a, which says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us.” I am often overwhelmed by the love of my children. It is truly humbling. Yes, children can also be demanding and difficult, and sometimes it can feel like we as moms are expected to sacrifice so much. But I’m constantly reminded by how freely and willingly children show and give love. 

A man wearing a green and orange plaid button-up shirt, jeans, and cap holds the halter of a small, dark red bull with a white face, chest, stomach, and tail in front of a purple back drop that says “Tulsa State Fair”. To the right in the frame is a little boy holding a sign that says “Reserve Champion Bull, Miniature Hereford, Open Cattle Show”. Behind the man and bull are a woman holding a little girl wearing an orange shirt and a man with a blue shirt, red tie, and black cowboy hat.  Just this past week, for example, I messed up so many times as a mom. I forgot Scarlett’s medication one morning, we were late for a doctor’s appointment, I forgot some supplies that the kids needed for school, and worst of all, I did not pack Scarlett’s leotard for dance class. By the end of the week, I felt so unworthy and defeated, but even after my worst mistake of all (the leos are NOT negotiable), Scarlett gave me a hug and said, “It’s okay, Mom, I still love you.” Children understand love in its truest sense—unselfishly choosing the highest good for others. That is what the Bible teaches, what Jesus did for us, and what I strive every day to do for others. It’s not easy, but I have been given so much in this life and consider it an obligation and a privilege to pass it on.

Share whatever you're comfortable with about Scarlett’s life.

Although cerebral palsy is only one piece of Scarlett and her life, it is a big one. Scarlett was originally diagnosed with cerebral palsy spastic diplegia at 20 months old. Her doctors more recently have changed her diagnosis to cerebral palsy with dystonia. Our doctors believe that the injury that led to Scarlett’s CP diagnosis occurred in utero. Other than some stiffness in her hand and wrist when she was born, Scarlett was a very typical baby. 

Looking back, there probably were more signs that we didn’t realize, such as some sensory issues and some mild spasticity. However, even our pediatrician said we probably would not have caught some of her physical delays if Scarlett was not a twin. At our nine-month well check, Scarlett was not yet rolling over, so our pediatrician began ordering tests and referring us to physical therapy. 

Almost a year later, Scarlett was officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Fast forward to today, Scarlett goes to kindergarten at a wonderful school that specializes in inclusive education and offers on-site therapy. She does physical therapy twice a week, occupational therapy twice a week, and she attends dance class for tap and ballet once a week. Scarlett also uses a robotic gait trainer from Trexo Robotics at home. 


*Cortney's story is part of CARE & GIVING. This series covers a few different aspects of the cerebral palsy community. It features the experiences of those who care about and for people with cerebral palsy, including parents and caregivers, therapists, paraprofessionals, and other allies. It also highlights donors who have made it their mission to move cerebral palsy forward, because care and giving go hand in hand.

The CARE & GIVING blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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