Disease just another challenge to meet

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 7, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — Ann Marie Perala has never let the cystic fibrosis that wreaks havoc on her lungs keep her from getting her school work done.
Whether it’s in a classroom at East Rowan High School, at home or in a hospital bed, she makes it a priority.
“She’s tenacious,” Hugh Good, a guidance counselor at the school, said. “She does not accept bad grades, she does not accept failure.”
Perala said the thick mucus that builds up in her lungs causes her to cough often. And colds that linger, with some for a few days, might knock her out for a week.
In the past year, she’s spent more days doing homebound instruction with her mother, Mary Green, than walking the halls of East Rowan.
“Sometimes it gets hard because I just miss everybody,” she said.
Despite missing out on school, Perala said she stays upbeat.
“My mom encourages me all the time,” she said. “She doesn’t really let me get down.”
Good said he’s been impressed with how sunny Perala’s outlook has always been.
“She looks at the glass half full,” he said. “Here she has all these health issues, but they are non-issues to her, she never uses her health as an excuse.”
And Good said Perala doesn’t shy away from challenges.
“When her mother or teachers set expectations, Ann Marie rises to them,” he said. “She is diligent, she always does her best.”
Although Perala hasn’t been able to participate in sports and activities at school because of her frequent absences, she said she is active at Corriher Heights Baptist Church.
“Church is one of the things I can do no matter what,” she said.
Perala also enjoys taking photos and scrapbooking in her free time.
She’ll join her class Saturday to graduate from East Rowan.
Perala plans to attend Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the fall and major in criminal justice.
“I would like to be a court reporter,” she said. “A lady at the hospital told me about it and I never really thought about that being somebody’s job, but from then on I was interested because you get to hear everything that goes on.”
In college, Perala is also hoping to learn a foreign language, one of the things she missed while on hiatus from East.
“I’m hoping to do the things in college — all the things I missed in high school,” she said.
Good said he expects Perala’s work ethic to carry over to college.
“She does the best at whatever she is doing,” he said. “I think that’s all the philosophy of living you need.
“It’s great to see people who have overcome such limitations to do their best.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.