Making costumes is nothing new for Dr. Kay Schwink, but little did she know recently she would be doing much more than that with her handiwork. She would actually be making a dream come true for one special young lady.
A biology teacher at Carroll County High School, Schwink has helped make Halloween costumes for her own child in the past as well as designing costumes for theatrical productions at the Hillsville school. But recently she got a request to make a specially-designed butterfly for Kesha Phillips, a member of the Carroll County Special Olympics and a past student at CCHS.
“It was a custom-designed butterfly costume that’s very authentic and anatomically-butterfly correct. We never knew a butterfly had six legs,” said Vickey Ritchie, who serves as Phillips’ Special Olympics coach. “Kesha is in a wheelchair, so you can’t just run out and buy a costume. This took a lot of time to make. Kesha loved it and we promised Dr. Schwink we would bring Kesha back to school before Halloween for her to see the costume.”
Ritchie said it couldn’t have been easy to make the costume. It had to be flexible and the wings had to be portable because of her wheelchair and the logistics of getting in and out of doorways. Phillips was certainly proud of her costume, smiling for photos and laughing with friends as she showed the costume off Thursday at CCHS. She was all smiles and giggles when asked about the costume.
Phillips’ mother, Sarah Perry, said butterflies and the color purple are two of her daughter’s favorite things. Helping make Phillips’ dream come true held deep meaning for Dr. Schwink.
“I have made costumes for people who did not get nearly as much joy out of it and that makes it really special,” Schwink said. “Even though I am a science teacher, in my secret life I am a creative person and I am of that age where little girls were supposed to learn to sew and I never liked that. I did what my mother required, but it was very little. So I found out about making costumes, which is totally different from putting zippers in dresses. When there was a request of somebody who could make a costume for Kesha I jumped on that and said, ‘Pick me, pick me.’ It has been really fun.”
Ritchie said Phillips has been getting great mileage out of the costume, using it for the Boo Ridge event recently at Hillsville Elementary School as well as reading events as local schools and other related endeavors.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN