Despite Asperger's Syndrome, Sikeston woman performs in communit - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Despite Asperger's Syndrome, Sikeston woman performs in community production

“I just wanted to challenge myself and show that I can do something that I never thought I could do,” Kelly said. “I just wanted to challenge myself and show that I can do something that I never thought I could do,” Kelly said.
SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) -

One young Sikeston, Missouri woman has proven you can't put limits on passion.

Kelly Braden recently played a major supporting role in the Sikeston Little Theater's "Bye, Bye Birdie."

You couldn't tell it from the audience, but Kelly has Asperger's Syndrome. 

It's something you may think could hold her back, but Kelly doesn't let her disorder stand in her way.

The director calls the role of Mae Peterson a "scene stealer" and, judging by the amount of laughter, it's clear that the audience agrees. 

However, underneath the loafers, the cane and the spray-on gray hair, there's a young woman with bravery as big as her part.

“I was always scared of doing it before because of my Asperger's and everything,” Kelly Braden said. “Tell yourself ‘I can do it, I can do it,' and be positive.”

Prior to this play, Kelly played background roles with little or no speaking parts.

“I was going to be that for this too, but then the opportunity came because the original girl that was playing Mama had to quit,” Kelly said.

“Kelly showed interest in the part and we talked about it and decided, you know, give her a shot,” Director Glen Cantrell said.

Cantrell said he's sure glad they did.

“You could just see the determination in her,” Cantrell said.

Her father said it's that determination that got her here.

“This has been, you know, fantastic. Because of her challenges, we didn't ever know that she would actually be able to get onstage,” David Braden said.

Kelly said breaking those barriers was what it was all about.

“I need to do something to get out of my comfort zone and I couldn't pass up this opportunity and I think it was definitely a God-given opportunity,” Kelly said.

So, with that leap of faith, she stepped onstage.

“I just wanted to challenge myself and show that I can do something that I never thought I could do,” Kelly said.

Kelly's message goes well beyond her character's humor. It's a lesson many of us need to learn.

“Stop looking at what we think they can't do and start thinking about what they can do,” Cantrell said.

“It's inspiring for all of us around her,” David Braden said.

“You can do it. It doesn't matter what you have, whether you have Asperger's like I do or Down Syndrome or anything else like that, any kind of disorder, any kind of problems you have, I mean, you can overcome them,” Kelly said.

And that character, is something the curtain will never close on.

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