Middletown family finds optimism in daughter
Kennedy Porter grew up with her brother, mom and dad, but she had felt an emptiness. For the first half of her life, she had felt something was missing.
She had always yearned for a sister.
“My godbrother and godsister who are twins always said it would be great to have another Kennedy,” the 16-year-old said.
About nine years ago, Kay and Charles told her about the twin sister who Kay had miscarried. After learning about her unborn sibling, she felt guilty.
“For a while, I felt like I killed my sister for taking her nutrients and stuff like that. I felt like I had done something wrong,” she said.
Kennedy said the loss of her twin and the death of her baby sister nine years ago gave her a new perspective on life. She now focuses on helping disadvantaged children and giving back in any way she can.
Kennedy’s positivity, empathy
Kay said Kennedy has always been an “angel” and has loved working with children who need more help with the goal of becoming a family lawyer advocating for kids.
“She always loved the underdog,” she said. “She has a heart for kids with special needs,” she said.
Tatiana Poladko-Alleyne, Kennedy’s mentor, has worked with the teen through Teen Sharp — a program that helps minorities and low-income students gain access to college — to help with her academics and leadership training.
“Kennedy is a very reflective and compassionate individual, very empathetic, which is a rare quality for teenagers to have developed at this stage,” the mentor said. “She really feels the needs others have.”
She said many of her peers and younger students’ leadership skills have evolved in their because of Kennedy’s empathetic nature.
“I have been impressed with her ability to connect with the other students and challenge them to be better day after day,” Poladko-Alleyne said.
Chase Porter, Kennedy’s 21-year-old brother, said his sister is active in the community and always strives to do good for others.
“Ever since Kennedy was younger, she was a leader. She never followed,” the Delaware State University college student said.
“It amazes me now what she is doing during this virus,” Kay said. “She took the lead and stepped up and said, ‘Wait a minute. How can I build a platform to help the elderly people.’ She has been amazing in that sense.”
She bought more than 100 thank-you cards for law enforcement, Bayhealth employees and the Cadia Rehabilitation Broadmeadow nursing home.
Middletown police Sgt. Scott Saunders, who knows the family well, said Kennedy is different from most other kids her age.
“She is someone who is mature beyond her years. Her passion for advocacy is refreshing in a world where most only care about themselves for the most part,” he said. “Who feels that strongly about showing their appreciation? It’s refreshing.”
Saunders told Kay she is the kind of person who only comes around once in a while.
“She empathizes well. She doesn’t just talk about it, it’s an action for her,” the sergeant said.
Kay said Kennedy has always seemed like the older of her two children because she has an “old soul,” which has made her the comforting leader when times have been hard.
She said her daughter has always been able to be positive in times of hardship, especially when she lost her baby nine years ago.
In March 2011, Kay had to deliver her child stillborn. While dealing with her child’s death, she became depressed, but Kennedy tried to be positive and see the deeper meaning behind it.
Kennedy said it was tough on her mom, given she had four miscarriages before this loss.
“The death of my baby sister, I saw my mom and how this affected her,” she said. “I remember saying, ‘Not everything is as bad as it seems.’”
Chase said when they lost their baby sister, it was tough on the family, but his sister was strong through it all.
“We struggled, but we fought through all of it,” he said.
Kay and Charles have faced many losses of children over the last couple decades, having four miscarriages and delivering one child stillborn, but they said they focus on the happiness they have in Kennedy and Chase.
Kay said she and Charles felt blessed to have Kennedy in their life after losing the twin. When her 16th birthday came around, they wanted to make sure they celebrated her.
The two threw a huge birthday party for their daughter right before the coronavirus hit. Charles said many might have thought it was over the top, but he wanted to make sure she knew how special she was.
“Some people might think it’s overboard, but I feel like if you can give your kids something to remember and cherish for years and years, it’s like passing a torch for them to give a similar experience for their kids,” he said.
Kay said many people spoke about her at the party, saying many of the same thoughts she and her husband have about their daughter.
“All of them saw the same thing in her,” she said. “Her passion is helping people. Wanting to make sure that she is making a difference in some way.”
Kay said the party might have been over-the-top, but she wanted to show off her daughter and her kindness.
“It’s important to celebrate life,” she said.