SPECIAL REPORT: Emily Lush and JoJo Stacker

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(WBKO) -- In South Central Kentucky, there are stars among the crowd in at least two different area high schools.

JoJo Stacker and Emily Lush are household names at their respective schools.

"Those are my fans," Emily said of her classmates at Grayson County High School.

"People always say 'Hi JoJo. How are you?' And they give me a fist bump," added JoJo, speaking about his experience at his own high school, South Warren.

You can usually find JoJo on the sideline handing out water, but one January night, everything changed, when he got to start a basketball game for the South Warren Spartans.

He took one shot: a three-pointer. He was then taken out of the game.

Fast forward two weeks.

Grayson County hosted rival Edmonson County. Emily Lush was side-by-side with her father, Rodney, as it was announced she'd be the new Homecoming Queen at GCHS.

Emily and JoJo are special people. Emily has Down Syndrome. JoJo has a severe intellectual disability, but nothing is stopping these two from living life.

Emily's own mother doesn't understand how her daughter stays so positive.

"I don't know," said Teresa Lush. "Just by nature, she is very positive. She has a way to bring out the best in everybody."

The same goes for JoJo's parents.

"He's probably the happiest kid that I've ever known," said JoJo's father Scott.

Emily and JoJo's popularity at school is undeniable, but their reach doesn't stop there.

"[Emily] just brings out the best in people, whether it's adults or her classmates." said Teresa Lush, "It's just a special gift that she has."

JoJo's parents say he can't go anywhere in Warren County without him knowing somebody.

Now a senior, JoJo's time with the basketball team is coming to a close.

"I've been on this team for six years," said JoJo, "and I got a lot of friends who care about me and are happy with me and play basketball with me, and I'm going to miss them."

All in all, these families wouldn't trade their schooling experiences for anything.

"We have had a tremendously positive experience with school," said Teresa Lush.

"[South Warren] keeps encouraging [JoJo], supporting him in everything that he does," explained JoJo's mother Loni. "They've been a positive role model in his life."

Emily has taught her parents a lot, and her parents, in turn, hope she teaches a lesson to others around them.

"It's a great opportunity that she has to show people that she is more like them than she is different from them," she said. "She likes music. She likes to dance, she likes to eat. All these things that typical teenagers do."

JoJo, the same way Emily does, doesn't let his limitations limit him.

"We're so proud of JoJo," said his mother. "He's just so happy all the time and he loves coming to school and he loves, loves the game of basketball."

"Given the opportunity, they can do so many different things," added Teresa Lush, "and it might not be to go to college and get a doctorate, but they can still contribute in monumental ways."

Emily Lush is now Royalty and says she wants to be treated like so.

As for JoJo, he's forever going to be a 100-percent career shooter.

They both hope to prove that people with special needs can contribute to society.

JoJo hopes to get a job after high school, and Emily is currently enjoying a job at the Farmers Feed Mill Restaurant in Leitchfield.



 
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