EXCLUSIVE: TOWIE’s Kelsey Stratford on her ‘miracle’ sister Kennedy

Her little sister has Spinal Muscular Atrophy

kelsey stratford

by Eden-Olivia Lord |
Updated on

We've seen Kelsey Stratford involved in all sorts of drama on TOWIE.

Arguing with Chloe Brockett, supporting her BFF Ella Rae Wise during her feuds and more recently Kelsey and Chloe managed put their difference aside and became friends again.

However in more personal news Kelsey has opened up to Closer Online about her little sister Kennedy, eight, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy a rare, genetically inherited neuromuscular condition.

Kelsey, 20, has previously opened up about Kennedy on TOWIE but has now spoken to us about her sister's diagnosis.

"It's a very rare condition, that’s why no one really talks about it," she began.

"She’s has to go to hospital every six months for check ups and she has medication Spinraza.

"She was lucky enough to get that because not every SMA baby can get it because it’s so much money on the NHS. That’s really helping her be able to move and it’s really good for her muscle," she explained.

Kelsey's twin brother and sister were both born with SMA, but she admitted that her family "didn't have any clue" about it.

"We had to do our own research because when my little brother was a couple of months old, he wasn’t sucking out of his bottle properly or swallowing properly.

"So they had to have loads of tests."

SMA causes progressive muscle weakness and loss of movement due to muscle wasting (atrophy). The genetic disorder is passed from parents to their children through the SMN1 gene which is carried by approximately 1 in 40 people in the UK.

Kelsey admitted that her mum and step-dad didn't tell her about her siblings conditions at first because she was only 12.

"I didn’t have a clue what was going on really, I thought everything was normal."

However a few months after her siblings were born tragedy struck, "My little brother passed away at four months from this disease because it is a terminal illness.

"But we’ve been so lucky Kennedy has lived up to eight years and the doctors told us she would only live up to 18 months old.

"It’s a miracle that she’s still here."

The reality star went on to explain what life is like for her little sister Kennedy, "She does find it really hard. She’s fighting for her life basically but we do give her the best life she can possibly have but it’s pretty hard.

"That’s why I want to make it more aware to everyone because so many babies have this disease but no one ever talks about it."

Kelsey, who admitted she might not have known about SMA if her family wasn't affected by it, has spoken about Kennedy's condition on TOWIE and during our chat she admitted she's always wanted to do more fundraising.

"I always have done [fundraising] since I was 12, even before going on TOWIE. So as soon as I started TOWIE I mentioned it to them [the producers] and they wanted to build up my character.

"They wanted everyone to get to know me before I started speaking about my sister and her condition."

Check out: the best Christmas jumpers 2020

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The best Christmas jumpers 2020 - slider

Grey Reindeer Snowflake Jumper1 of 12

Grey Reindeer Snowflake Jumper

Simple and effective, the ideal Christmas jumper that's a bit cheesy but will definitely keep you warm as you sit outside having mulled wine on your patio.

Black Fine Knit Diamantu00e9 Embellished Tunic Jumper2 of 12

Black Fine Knit Diamanté Embellished Tunic Jumper

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Sequin Bauble Christmas Jumper

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Sequin Tree Christmas Jumper

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Cats in Hats Christmas Jumper

I mean... I don't know what I can really say about this one, except, if you're going for the ultimate Christmas jumper, this might be it.

Red Polar Bear Sweatshirt6 of 12

Red Polar Bear Sweatshirt

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Grey Candy Cane Fairisle Christmas Jumper

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M&S Sequin Dog Print Crew Neck Christmas Jumper

What's more Christmassy than dogs with sequin scarves? Well, probably a few things, but these are pretty cute. This'll look great on Christmas Zoom calls with work.

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White Stuff Festive Fox Jumper

Mint green might not be the most traditional colour for a Christmas jumper, but then, nothing about 2020 has been normal has it, so why not. Plus we love a good fox design.

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Another Influence Tall lit llama Christmas jumper

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We never seem to have snow at Christmas any more, but let's hope for the best with this jumper.

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Action For Children Christmas Jumper

With all proceeds going to the charity Action For Children, this black sweatshirt has cute outlines of Christmassy stuff in the shape of a Christmas tree. What's not to love? Plus we like the sweatshirt style rather than a woolly jumper.

Kelsey stratford
Kelsey wearing her Christmas jumper

Kelsey also opened up about Kennedy and her personality and admitted she's "so funny" and she "loves to play".

"Every single person that meets her, she has them crying with laughter. She’s really funny and mischievous - she likes to wind people up sometimes.

"She loves to go on Instagram. When she gets followers she gets really excited and she [posts] videos and pictures."

The TOWIE star added, "Her brain is completely normal. She’s just lovely. Everyone falls in love with her when they meet her.

"No matter what goes on, she’s just the happiest girl in the world."

Kelsey is an ambassador for SMA and is supporting Christmas Jumper Day - 11 December - and is hoping to raise money for the charity that supports and empowers anyone affected by Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

The 20-year-old has encouraged people to get involved by taking a photo of themselves in a Christmas jumper and mention that you're supporting Christmas Jumper Day for SMA.

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Kelsey has also opened up about her upcoming plans for this festive season, "I just spend Christmas with my family because I have little sister’s they get really excited for Christmas."

She also opened up about her plans for 2020 and it seems that she wants to follow in a lot of influencer's footsteps and fly out to Dubai.

"I’ve been really wanting to go for ages. So if we can go on any holidays that is the first place I’m going – Dubai."

And if you're hoping to see Kelsey's family members on TOWIE, she's hinted that she actually wants her brother to join the cast.

"He’s only 10 and a half months older than me. We’re like twins. I really want him to come on the show but I don’t know if he will or not."

She added, "My mum would love to come back on TOWIE – she had her first scene on TOWIE and she loved it."

SMA UK are advocates for better services and access to new treatments, raise public awareness and fund research-related initiatives. For more information please visit the SMA Charity website.

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