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Nationally Recognized Advocate, Community Volunteer,
Best-Selling Author,
Motivational Speaker,
Student Intern,
and Beauty Queen
"Special Needs Mean Special Abilities"

Kelsey Norris is a nationally recognized 18 year old advocate, community volunteer, best-selling author, motivational speaker, student intern, athlete and beauty queen.  Adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was 14 months old, she has been diagnosed as having autism, intellectual disabilities and Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome (rare genetic disorder).  Doctors did not know if she would ever walk or talk.  Today, she is a thriving special education high school student who receives straight "A"s and is a Beta Club member.  Kelsey believes that "Special Needs Means Special Abilities" - individuals with disabilities can achieve great things in life and make a tremendous positive difference in the lives of others.  She is working towards establishing her own foundation that will support individuals with disabilities and children in crisis situations.

  • One of the Top Ten Youth Volunteers in the Nation, The National Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
  • Official resolutions from her local County Commissioners, Georgia Governor, the Georgia State Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives commending her for her work to support Georgia children who are in crisis and in other difficult circumstances
  • Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Medal for Youth for exemplary service to the community, state and nation
  • Gold President's Volunteer Service Award (six time recipient)
  • Presidential Award for Academic Excellence
  • International "Yes I Can!" Award from the Council for Exceptional Children
  • National Youth Activist Award
  • American Red Cross Hometown Hero Award
  • Going the Distance Award for fundraising from the American Cancer Society (two time recipient)
  • Thomas C. Hunnicutt Making a Difference Award
  • Kohl's Kids Care Scholarship Program Award (two time recipient)
  • Goodwill Award
  • Outstanding Volunteer Service Award for support of the Flint Humane Society
  • Pageantry Magazine Spirit Award Winner
  • Top Princess Fundraiser in the Nation Award for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals from the Miss America Outstanding (MAO) Teen Organization





Nationally Recognized Advocate

Kelsey is currently serving as a Georgia Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador.  The international autism advocacy organization is headquartered in New York City.  Responsibilities include: establish and maintain relationships with federal legislators; serve as a media stakeholder and liaison; recruit other volunteers to participate in autism advocacy; work directly with Autism Speaks staff, both in Atlanta and Washington, DC, to implement advocacy initiatives; and to be involved in autism related meetings/events and report these activities to Autism Speaks staff.  In 2019, Kelsey worked with the ambassadors from the other 49 states to promote the passage of the Autism CARES Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.  The Autism CARES Act authorizes $1.8 billion in federal funding for autism research, services, training and monitoring. 


Worked with Governor Brian Kemp and his staff to officially declare April as Autism Awareness Month in Georgia for the past several years.  Kelsey also worked with her local county commissioners to officially declare April as Autism Awareness Month in Houston County, Georgia.


Currently serving as an Advisory Board member for the non-profit HALO Group.  The organization is providing vocational and life skills training opportunities for young adults with autism and developmental disabilities in middle Georgia. The mission is to create a dynamic, multi-faceted program which fosters inclusion into society by addressing the vocational, social and residential needs of adults with special needs.  Kelsey has jogged/biked/swam for 2,665 miles, during the past three years, as a fundraising and awareness activity for the organization.






Community Volunteer


During the past several years, Kelsey has volunteered for over 4,500 documented community service hours.  She has also raised over $35,000 to help children in need and their families.  These include, but are not limited to:  HALO Group; Children's Miracle Network Hospitals; Shriners Children's Hospitals; St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital; Children's Healthcare of Atlanta; and Ronald McDonald House.


Collected food donations for the Houston County Backpack Buddies Program.  The program provides nutritious weekend food for local hungry and malnourished students.  Between May 2015 - March 2020, Kelsey donated over 3,500 cans and boxes of food for the project.


Currently serving as the Special Needs Ambassador and Advocate for the South Georgia Regional Prevention Coalition (six county rural regional coalition).  Kelsey's responsibilities include collecting donated clinic supplies and educational outreach materials and speaking at community outreach events. 


Currently collecting donations for the Flint Humane Society.  Since May 2015, she has donated over 6,900 pounds (3 tons) of dog food to the organization.  In addition, Kelsey is donating part of the proceeds from one of her books "A Girl and Her Dogs" to the non-profit organization.


Has written several grant proposals totaling over $25,000 to fund autism awareness outreach materials, school health clinic supplies, nutritious food and sports equipment for economically deprived children.







Best Selling Author


Kelsey is the best-selling author of five books:  "I Want to Make a Difference", "A Girl and Her Dogs", "You Can Move Mountains", "Cooking with Kelsey" and "Kelsey Goes to the Special Olympics".  The books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million and several other online vendors.  These books share what it is like to be a child, adolescent and teenager living with disabilities.  Two of these books have been nominated for the Schneider Family Book Award which is given by the American Library Association (ALA) recognizing authors and illustrators for the excellence of portrayal of the disability experience in literature for youth.

In 2022, she donated a copy of her new children's book "Kelsey Goes to the Special Olympics" to all 181 Georgia public school systems to place in the media centers/libraries at their primary, elementary and middle schools.  This will enable their 1.1 million students to have free access to her book which shares the message of kindness, understanding, inclusion and the acceptance of others who may be different than you.  To-date, she has donated over 1,000 copies of her book to schools, students and other youth serving organizations.
At a book signing event          





Motivational Speaker and Workshop Facilitator

Kelsey and her mother have been giving motivational presentations and speaking to community groups and school children since she was five years old.   Her motivational presentations focus on kindness, understanding, inclusion and acceptance of others who may be different than you.  She has spoken at international, national and state conferences; schools and community events.






Student Intern
Kelsey is a student intern for Norris Consulting Group.  Her responsibilities include researching potential grant funding opportunities that will help support local community service projects and assisting with developing a training program to teach young people (10 - 18 year olds) how to write grant proposals and obtain other financial resources to fund their community service projects.   She and her mother have trained over 150 youth leaders from throughout Georgia and the nation at workshops and national conferences.













Kelsey is a state Special Olympics gold medal winning athlete (4 gold medals) and is currently ranked as the #1 Special Olympics athlete in the nation.  During the past couple of years, more than two million people have read the posts and articles about Kelsey's life and achievements that have been published by international autism advocacy organizations, magazines, newspapers and TV interviews. 


Kelsey also stays busy with her dance studio, swim team, jogging, bike riding, horse riding, bowling and golf.





Beauty Queen


Kelsey is the current Miss Conyers Cherry Blossom and will be competing at the Miss Georgia Scholarship Competition in June 2022.  She will be the first young woman with intellectual disabilities to compete in the 77 year history of the pageant.  


Her social impact initiative is "special needs means special abilities".  She believes that individuals with disabilities can achieve great things in life and make a tremendous positive difference in the lives of others.  She believes she can accomplish this by promoting the message of kindness, understanding, inclusion and acceptance of individuals who may be different that you.   When she graduates from high school, she wants to continue to share her experiences with others in the hopes that her story creates increased awareness and understanding of what it is like to live with disabilities.  She intends to keep writing, sharing, speaking and advocating.   She also would like to obtain a college degree and work with law enforcement to help school children, especially ones with disabilities, learn to not be afraid of first responders who are there to help them and their families.



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  Photos by Matt Boyd Photography      

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