Addie Brunkhorst

educates others about blindness, pursues acting

Addie Brunkhorst, a senior at Cape Central High School, says she is “pretty good with change.” So, at 10 years old, when she was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease — a genetic eye disease that causes loss of central vision — she says she thought, “whatever,” and went on living her life.

Addie uses a white cane to help her navigate, and because of her cane usage, she says people often think she is completely blind, although she still has peripheral and close-up vision. After witnessing the common misconceptions surrounding blindness, Addie has helped educate her peers, teachers and administrators at Cape Central High School about white canes and the spectrum of blindness. She has shared her knowledge about white canes in a post on her school’s Instagram and in an article for her school’s newspaper.

She thinks it’s important for everyone to know the meanings associated with the color at the bottom of white canes: Red means the person has some usable vision, white means the person is completely blind, and red with white stripes means the person is both deaf and blind.

One of Addie’s favorite after-school activities is playing the clarinet in Cape Central High School’s band. She chose to play the instrument in seventh grade because her mom played it, and she’s stuck with it for the past six years. She does marching band during the first part of the school year and wind symphony during the second part of the school year.

At home, Addie is kept busy caring for 57 Madagascar hissing cockroaches — her unusual but adored pets. Addie says she had pet cockroaches as a child, so she asked for them again two Christmases ago. Her family thought the four cockroaches they gave her were all female, until the babies started coming — and kept coming — until Addie had 57 pet cockroaches. She still loves every single one.

“It’s a little bit hard to understand, because I think they’re adorable and really cute. They’re nice little creatures,” Addie says. “I have one [cockroach] — her name is Jelly — and when I open her lid, she runs over to me and climbs on my hand, and we just hang out for a while. It’s really cute.”

After she graduates high school in May 2023, Addie says she would like to pursue a career in acting. She tried acting for the first time during her sophomore year. She acted in her school’s play, “The Least Offensive Play in the Whole Darn World,” in which they had a button that made “inappropriate plays” appropriate. That same year, she stepped onto the stage again as a butler in the play “The Murderous Mansion of Mr. Uno.”

Although Addie loves theater, she is most interested in film acting, which is why she signed up to take the year-long digital media production class at the Cape Career and Technology Center, to learn more about what happens behind the scenes on a film set. Addie says her favorite part of the class is working with the cameras, which has helped her get a better idea of what she wants to do in the future.

“[The cameras are] super cool. I want to start [my career] with cameras, and then become an actor. Just slowly move from behind the scenes to acting,” Addie says.

Addie currently plans on pursuing a degree in Film/TV at Southeast Missouri State University this fall. Wherever she ends up in the future, Addie is sure to take a positive attitude and ambition with her.

“Just don’t let the hardships get to you,” Addie says. “Make the best of every situation.”

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