Willard senior is unlikely candidate to be graduation speaker

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WILLARD, Mo. (KY3) - Thousands will pack JQH Arena for the Willard High School graduation on Saturday night. The keynote speaker this year is an unlikely candidate -- one whom was once told he'd never speak at all.

Evan Kirksey is on top of the world. He says his senior year is untouchable.

"This has been a really cool experience for sure," said Kirksey.

To make things better for Evan, he was chosen as the speaker for Willard's 2017 graduation ceremony. It's something out of the ordinary for a student.

"It's really neat," he said.

There are many things neat and extraordinary about this guy. He is going to the national stage in speech and debate -- an honor few attain.

"It's a crazy big deal. You have to go through numerous rounds in districts. You have to do very well throughout the entire season," said Adora Snead.

It's even more extraordinary when you consider that, from birth, Evan was told he'd never walk or talk.

".. the mistreatment of the disabled .. and that apathy of the human race."

Evan's message is clear.

"Acceptance is key. We must abolish the stigma that surrounds having a disability. It's not self defining; it doesn't limit someone's potential; it's not something to pity; and it in no way makes life not worth living," he says in his oratory.

Evan has cerebral palsy but he is no victim of his diagnosis -- and the heartache that can bring.

"I've lived through it. I know that that doesn't feel good. I know that that's not how it should be," he said.

He is more than a conqueror.

"Do I think that I'm an inspiration? Not really, just because I'm me. I just have done my best to live for the Lord and to live to be the best person that I can be, and, if that inspires other people in the process, that's pretty cool."

Kirksey hopes to help shape people's present and future by taking the "dis" out of disability -- one oratory at a time.

"He has inspired me in numerous ways and helped me grow as a person," Adora said.