HONOLULU (KHON2) — Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a congenital disorder that often affects speech, sight, muscle function and coordination. It’s a condition that can present challenges in life, but one local girl has never let it stop her from achieving everything she has set her mind to.
From starting her own card business to competing in three Special Olympics sports, Kaylee Osaki is proving to everyone that anything is possible.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
Kaylee, 17, started making cards in 2018. When she was in the 8th grade, she was given the chance to travel to Kennedy Space Center. The trip for the whole family would be an expensive one, but it was Kaylee who was determined to make it happen through fundraising.
“Of course the first thing she thought of was a car wash — we were able to move on from that,” said Celeste Osaki, Kaylee’s mom. “Talking with my friends, Kaylee came up with the idea of making cards, and that was the beginning.“
Celeste’s friends donated cardstock, papers, stickers, ribbons and even adhesives for Kaylee to get her fundraiser started. When the fundraising was over, Kaylee decided to continue making cards so that she can help provide for herself and show people that even someone who has a disability can make beautiful things.
“That is also when we came up with the name Kaylee’s Kards Imperfectly Perfect!” said Celeste. “That is because Kaylee’s fine motor skills are affected. Everything she does is one of a kind, and when she asks what I think, I would always respond that it is imperfectly perfect.“
From birthdays to holidays and everything in between, Kaylee makes all the cards herself. No two cards are exactly the same. So far, she’s made anywhere between 2,000 to 2,500 cards.
Kaylee’s mission includes giving back to the organizations and communities that have supported her throughout her journey, and she hopes her contributions can help make other kids’ lives better. Each card is signed by Kaylee, and $1 from every pack sold is donated to Shriners Hospital for Children.
Kaylee was once a patient there. When she was born, her parents were told that she may not be able to walk. Because her muscles were weak, they loaned her a walker to make braces for her feet. Slowly, she needed less and less support and was eventually able to show them that she could run.
Not only can she run, Kaylee competes in three Special Olympic sports: soccer, swimming and bowling. She also just started bocce. Even when Special Olympics was not able to hold practices due to the pandemic, Kaylee was participating in fitness challenges on her own.
She also dances hula with Hālau I Ka Wēkiu, a world-renowned hula school in Honolulu. She has performed at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, Hawaii Theater and will soon appear at the Waikiki Shell for their annual concert on May 1.
“Kaylee is very competitive and loves the challenge,” Celeste said. “She always wants to do her best.“
Kaylee’s mom describes her daughter as enthusiastic, ambitious and gregarious, but life with CP is not an easy one. Kaylee’s fine motor skills make it difficult to do things that most people take for granted, like bathing, getting dressed and carrying heavy things.
Celeste said people have a hard time understanding Kaylee when she talks, and some don’t like that she drools and squeals when she gets excited. People will also speed past her daughter when she’s walking, or they stare. With the support from her family and friends, Kaylee refuses to be left waiting on the sidelines and has accomplished so much already.
It was Kaylee’s dream to create a company that allowed her to utilize her creativity to bring happiness to others. She first wanted to expand Kaylee’s Kards at craft fairs, and now it’s become a family affair. Her dad and twin brother Kyler get everything ready the night before, packing the car and helping to set up and break down the booth. Kyler also helps Kaylee at the table speaking with customers.
Currently a junior at McKinley High School, Kaylee is on track to graduate in 2023. Her mom said she will be receiving a diploma, not a certificate like most Special Education students. Her plans after high school?
Check out more news from around Hawaii
Kaylee will attend community college for two years before transferring to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Her goal is to work with kids that have special needs, while continuing to participate in Special Olympics and run her card business.
“I hope I can keep up with her,” said Celeste.