Cortney & Ixchel

Big Sister Cortney Achord is a former American Red Cross volunteer who traveled to Alabama to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief. She’s also a happily married professional who works as a marketing manager for Rubbermaid products.

Little Sister Ixchel was born in Mexico City and never met her father. The family’s transition to Fairfax County was difficult and gang violence nearly claimed Ixchel’s brother. The sensitive little girl had another challenge to overcome — she is legally blind. Perhaps due to all of these challenges, Ixchel has developed an outstanding sensitivity for others.

“The girl I met two years ago had no aspirations of going to college and was unsure of herself,” says Cortney. “Today, in her place is a vivacious, outgoing young lady who wants to go to Harvard and work in investment banking — and I believe her when she says she’ll do it!”

Ixchel has taught herself Braille and attends public school. She gives speeches to emphasize the value of reading programs and softball leagues for the visually impaired. But most of all, Ixchel wants to be treated like any other girl who loves simple things like the outdoors, singing and Harry Potter books.

“I truly have come to feel like Ixchel is part of my family,” says Cortney. For Ixchel, the feeling is mutual. “I never imagined that someone as special as Cortney would be in my life,” she says. “I’ll always think of her as my Big Sister.”