CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Emily Morrissey is finding her purpose one bracelet at a time.
She realized at a young age that she loves to string beads, and would spend days as a child lining up large beads on pipe cleaners. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth, Morrissey fell in love with beading when she discovered it during occupational therapy when she was only three or four years old.
Now, she’s a junior in high school, and she uses colorful plastic beads to create handmade bracelets.
"It makes me happy to make them for the people who need them,” Morrissey said.
She's now turned that passion into a business called Emily’s Bracelets, and it’s a family affair. Her mother, father and younger brother all work together to fulfill orders that she’s receiving from across the country, but each bracelet is handmade by Emily.
"All of us worked together to find something that utilized her skills, and her passion and the things that she loves, to turn it into something that she can do to feel productive and be a part of society," Emily’s mother Kristin said.
Her father Dan says it can be difficult for children like Emily to find their purpose.
“And it seems simple,” he said, “But bracelets, as she said, are a purpose that make her happy."
Emily plans to keep making and selling bracelets when she finishes high school. She is also donating a portion of her proceeds to her other passion, the Special Olympics. When she's not working on her business, she enjoys competing in bocce.
Her 16-year-old brother PJ now volunteers with the Special Olympics. He also walks Emily into school every day and plays a vital role in her business, building her website and handling all of the social media and customer service for Emily’s Bracelets.
"I like the sense of independence that it gives her,” PJ said. “And, it makes her proud when she sees people wearing the bracelets.”
PJ also wrote a book called “Different” that’s available on Amazon. In it, he shares his experiences growing up with a sibling who has special needs. He also shares advice for other siblings and for parents.
"PJ is the sibling that you hope your child with special needs will have. He`s a protector, he`s an advocate, he loves her beyond words," Kristen said.
Kristin and Dan say they couldn’t be more proud of both of their children.