Blind Middletown student’s beautiful voice came from ‘nowhere’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Makenna Kash sings the national anthem at the Middletown Schools special olympics event.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Makenna Kash acts like she could sing the national anthem in her sleep.

As hundreds of people, including about 100 students, watched from the football field at Barnitz Stadium during the Middletown Special Olympics last week, Makenna started signing the anthem.

When she got to the end of the third line, “through the perilous fight,” the microphone that Brad Fletcher, physical education teacher at Amanda Elementary School, was holding went dead. He tapped it a few times, and it turned back on.

Makenna continued without missing a word.

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When the microphone quit again, those in the crowd were urged to sing along with Makenna.

To those tasked with singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a malfunctioning microphone ranks second only behind forgetting the words as a performer’s greatest fear. Those who mess up the anthem can become punch lines for years. Just ask Roseanne Barr and Carl Lewis.

But throughout the sound system fiasco, Makenna, 18, a senior at Middletown High School, remained unflappable. There was no panic. She just kept singing. Nothing unnerved her. She was accustomed to overcoming obstacles.

See Makenna is blind.

Not visually impaired.

Completely blind.

“No vision,” said her mother Marnie Kash.

ExplorePHOTOS: Middletown Schools Special Olympics

Makenna was four months old when her parents, Rob and Marnie Kash, were told she was born with septo-optic nerve dysplasa. Her eyes are perfectly healthy.

They’re just not connected right.

After the diagnosis, her parents, now divorced, had to make a choice: One shared by parents of children with disabilities.

Either let their daughter live her life to the fullest or close the curtains.

The Kashs immediately put Makenna in music therapy at Cincinnati Association for the Blind. That’s where Makenna’s voice was discovered, she learned to play the piano and read braille. What Makenna lacked in sight she made up in song.

“She fond this love for music,” her mother said before the Special Olympics. “One day she just started singing and we listened to this voice come from nowhere. We were just overwhelmed with how beautiful she sounded. From that point on, we were astonished. She has been singing ever since.”

She has performed before Dream Catchers sporting events and at the professional tennis tournament in Mason. When some people look at Makenna, they may see a blind girl.

Her parents see Makenna for what she offers, not what she lacks.

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“You hand her a microphone and she just goes to it,” her mother said. “She just belts it out and it’s just amazing. Wait until all these people hear her. It brings tears to your eyes because she has such a beautiful voice. She’s one of a kind. I never knew she had a voice like this.”

When asked to critique her performance, Makenna said: “It was good except the mic went out. I wanted to do real good.”

After Makenna throw the softball in the Special Olympics, Rob Kash was asked his daughter. Before answering, he searched the field to make sure Makenna was still standing with her friends. She’s 18. But she’s still his baby.

“She’s awesome,” he said, his voice cracking. “She’s my whole life.”

It’s been 18 years, but he remembers the day he and his wife were told about Makenna’s condition. What does a father do when he can’t fix what’s wrong with his little girl?

“You can’t do anything about it,” he said. “So you just plow through it and do what you can. You do what’s best for them.”

Like watching your baby take her first steps, they celebrate all of their daughter’s milestones, even those reached years later than normal.

“I get to feel that a lot of the time,” he said. “Anytime she accomplishes something, we celebrate.”

Even when the microphone doesn’t work, there are reasons to celebrate.

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