When it comes to Jessica Van Bruggen, the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” fits perfectly.
At first glance, you see the outside — something Jessica could not control. But inside, comes an inspiring story of determination.
So, read on because her story involves something that has affected fewer than a dozen people in the world.
Jessica was born with a syndrome called cerebro-oculo-nasal hydrocephalus, which causes malformations in the eyes, nose and brain. Where most have a nose, Jessica developed a crevice. Her brain growth was stunted as well, due to un-drained spinal fluid.
Countless surgeries have tried to fix all that.
But Jessica cannot see the outcomes because she was born without optical nerves and has been blind since birth. But with that came a heighten sense of hearing. She can hone in on an individual conversation in a crowded room.
The conversation her mother, Cathy Van Bruggen, wants focus on is the inside story.
She proudly draws attention to Jessica’s track ribbons, cheerleading awards and pictures of her at prom, which her mom did not know Jessica attended until a visit to Jessica’s school — a sign of her daughter’s growing independence. Jessica has driven a boat and ridden horses.
Jessica attends the Kentucky School for the Blind in Louisville, which led to more opportunities — a job at the Louisville Zoo and work at a Hard Rock Café, The Ronald McDonald House and Bear Grass Christian Church.
“That’s another thing,” Jessica’s mother said. “Jessica never cries or gets sad.”
Not bad for a girl who wasn’t supposed to live more than a couple days.
“I am doing pretty well then, aren’t I?” said Jessica to her mother.