Sophie Korpics was once no bigger than an eggplant. Born nearly four months early, at 251/2 weeks, she weighed 1 pound, 9 ounces. She spent her first three weeks on a ventilator, and it took her one hour to ingest one droplet of milk.
Last week, Sophie, now 14, rode her power-assisted wheelchair down the hallways at Newburyport High School for the first time. She likes how wide and smooth they are compared to the middle school and how well she has been received by other students.
And when her dad on a recent Sunday said the next hurdle will be getting her into college, she replied reassuringly: “Oh, you don’t need to worry about me.”
Sophie has made a habit of beating the odds since her parents, Steve and Nathalie Korpics, brought her home to Newburyport after her first 115 grueling days at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 2, she has faced so many medical procedures that they shook their heads and laughed when asked to list them all.
During those early days when her future seemed uncertain, they could not imagine that she would learn to walk, make the Nock Middle School honor roll, perform in theater productions and approach life with such a positive attitude that her doctors talk about her as an inspiration.
“Maybe God put me on this earth to inspire others,” Sophie said. “Everyone is trying to find a purpose in life, and I feel like that might be mine ... My life is hard enough; why do I have to make it harder for myself?”
She gesticulates when she carefully chooses her words and punctuates her sentences with soft hums. She is articulate, thoughtful and, according to her caregiver Kim Baxter, an old soul and a romantic, who likes to turn on Beethoven or Mozart before she goes to sleep.