Student with cerebral palsy sets wheelchair aside to join classmates on stage at graduation

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NORTHBROOK, Ill. — Graduation at a suburban junior high was made all the more memorable Tuesday as one student completed a journey 14 years in the making.

Emily Catherine Duff, 14, is now a proud graduate of Northbrook Junior High. Emily has cerebral palsy and often requires a wheelchair for mobility, but she met this occasion with a smile on her face, a gleam in her eye and just her wheeled walker.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “A little nervous but really excited.”

Emily joined hundreds of her classmates on stage and was greeted with cheers and applause.

Her mother, Elizabeth Duff, said it seems like this moment began at birth. She said she is grateful to the team of specialists that has helped.

“it takes a real village to make this happen,” she said.

Emily said she couldn’t believe the moment had arrived.

“I’m happy it’s finally here,” she said. “I’m kind of shocked.  It felt so long ago that I was in 6th grade and it’s kind of crazy.”

She wanted to thank the team of supporters that was with her every step of the way.

“My parents and my teachers and everyone,” she said. “It’s great.”

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