She wasn’t expected to live past 25. Thanks to the Center of Family Love, this Oklahoman is still thriving 40 years later

Great State

Correction: A typo in the original version has been fixed.

OKARCHE, Okla. (KFOR) – The art barn is a popular place at the Center of Family Love.

A couple of years ago the room served as a storage room.

On this day, Pauline Navotny has the place to herself, getting a little help from pottery teacher Julie Casler.

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Pauline Navotny and Julie Casler.

She’s only a little bit distracted by the handsome photographer leaning over her shoulder, but enjoying herself immensely at all the attention.

Pauline’s life has taken a rockier path to this point.

Cerebral Palsy left her without the ability to speak and without the use of her legs.

Inside, however, lay a fierce determination to live and grow.

“Very determined,” agrees Casler. “Actually, there’s nothing she can’t do if she sets her mind to it.”

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Pauline Navotny when she was a young woman.

She was the Center’s first resident in 1981.

The home for special need adults was just getting started.

Pauline’s parents could no longer care for her.

In fact, doctors told staff not to expect Pauline to live much past her first year in residence.

“It’s incredible,” marvels Center Director Debbie Espinosa. “She has outlived her life expectancy by 40 years. 40 years!”

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Pauline Navotny back in the day.

Birthdays are a big event around here.

We’ve covered a few ourselves.

The Center’s surprise virtual gala and fundraiser for 2021 went off with an extra bang with Pauline front and center.

“Our goal,” insists Espinosa, “is to make sure we are their advocate in helping them achieve their dreams, and I think that’s what gives them the ability to want to live.”

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Pauline Navotny

She’s too old to be a poster child any longer.

But both Pauline and this place are testament to the power that sometimes lies hidden within.

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The Center of Family Love has a fundraising goal of $2 million each year.

The 130 residents there are offered residence and activities at no cost to them or their families.

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Center of Family Love

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