'Wanted to celebrate:' Young woman with autism hosts graduation party for teachers, mentors

ELKHORN -- There was a celebration Saturday, July 13 for a group of men and women who made a difference in a young girl's life.

"Today we are hosting, well, yeah, hosting a party for my teachers," said Kendall Kalivoda.

Kalivoda, 18, couldn't have been more excited to graduate from high school.

After years of trouble finding the right school to attend with her high-functioning autism, she found teachers who were kind, caring, and knew how to help.

She and her parents decided to throw a party to say, "Thank you."

"I knew that the people who really counted -- who really got her here -- were her teachers, her mentors, the aides that helped, special education teachers. Those are the people who we really wanted to celebrate today," said Lynn Tuinstra, Kendall's mom. "It's so significant to see her embrace, at 18 years old, gratitude for the people that have impacted her life."

The party was complete with plenty of graduation cupcakes and a slideshow -- featuring photos of Kalivoda with all of her favorite teachers.