By Natasha Brown
MOORESTOWN, N.J. (CBS) – A Moorestown teenager who has battled an incurable and rare disease since her birth makes it her life’s work to help others. Kennedy Hubbard’s facial deformity may make her look a bit different, but her inner spirit and beauty shine through.
During spirit week at Moorestown High School, you’ll see 14-year-old Kennedy Hubbard darting through the hallways, scurrying to get to volleyball practice. Kennedy is a freshman, a typical teen suffering from a very atypical disease known as lymphatic malformation.
Her mother Leanne explained, “Something goes wrong in utero with the vascular system forming, and the lymphatic system doesn’t drain out properly.”
The disease occurs in one in every 12,000 births, but it hasn’t hindered this vibrant teenager. Kennedy’s on a mission to bring awareness to the very rare condition she has lived with her entire life.
“People I don’t even know came up to me and said, ‘I bought one of your bracelets,'” Kennedy said. “They were thrilled.”
Students are clamoring to buy a bracelet supporting Kennedy’s Cause. Proceeds go to Children’s Hospital of Boston, one of the only places in the country equipped to handle Kennedy’s condition.
“We travel up to Boston every eight weeks,” said Leanne. “We’re up there about a week. It’s a surgical procedure done in the O.R.”
Kennedy’s been wearing a tracheostomy tube since she was six months old.
We sat down with her at home, and she explains why every bracelet she sells displays the word “shine.”
“The bracelets can mean multiple things,” said Kennedy. “We say, ‘Let your inner beauty shine.’ That’s where it comes from.”
Leanne Hubbard learns valuable lessons from her daughter. Her spirit is infectious.
“She’s very outgoing, happy all the time,” said Leanne. “She wakes up happy, goes to bed happy. She’s well aware of how different she appears, but she just faces it every day.”
Kennedy’s “BFF,” Rachel Fordham, says other students rarely see the outward differences in Kennedy, focusing more on her inner glow.
“She deals with it great,” Rachel said. “She never has any problems, and if somebody was to say something, she gets over it right away. She just looks at the bright side of things.”
Right now there is no cure for lymphatic malformation, but there is certainly no stopping Kennedy, whose inner beauty shines through for all to see.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Kennedy. “Doesn’t matter what the outside is, it’s what’s on the inside.”