03:20 AM

Love of history inspires Platte County girl to read

Grace Cogan is a Children's Mercy patient with Goltz syndrome

In a 100-year-old farmhouse north of Weston, Grace Cogan clunks away on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter in a tiny space her dad carved out beneath the stairs.

She calls it her "writing room." Grace is 14. She has a cigar box full of old corncob pipes, and she'll tell you her favorite quote comes from Thomas Jefferson: "I cannot live without books."

Same with Grace. The proof is scattered about and most often beneath her nose. Her favorite book is "To Kill a Mockingbird," a story she regards so highly she would never presume to see herself in the metaphor.

But Grace Cogan is a mockingbird. Full of flight, full of song, innocent.

When she was born 14 years ago, the nurses dried her off and wiped away skin. She had a genetic disorder called Goltz syndrome, or focal dermal hypoplasia. Doctors told her parents she might not live the day.

Ask those in her family now about Grace and her 22 surgeries and all the hospital stays, and they'll come to a point where the voice breaks and then goes quiet. Hand up.

Well, not Grandma. Sandy Ryan's voice broke, but she plowed ahead talking about how a family came together to help a little girl who fought to live through the bad days and then came the good day this summer when Grace called from the University of Maryland to tell her grandparents she'd finished fifth in the country for National History Day competition.

Read more via The Kansas City Star.