Faces of Laradon: CeCe’s Story

The Beginning

To know Cece Rudesill is to know the world through a kaleidoscope of colors and positive energy.

After all, CeCe is known as many things. A black woman. A cancer warrior. A Kikuyu and Maasai descendent. An avid volunteer and change maker. A Laradon Residential Program Manager. A friend, sister, wife, and dog mom. An optimist. An advocate. A CeCe. (Just to name a few.)

The infinite number of pieces that make CeCe the person she is today are deeply rooted in her story. CeCe was born into the Kikuyu and Maasai tribes of Kenya.

CeCe describes how the tribes speak a very unique dialect and many traditions are still observed today— like, for the Maasai, it’s taboo for a man to touch a woman’s head because it is considered sacred and how the Kikuyu are known for being good with business.

“Being an African woman is an aspect of my being that I am very proud of,” CeCe explains.

CeCe learned a lot about life when she was young.

“I think gain is synonymous with Loss. Losing a parent(s) at whatever stage in life is unfortunate and sad. I lost my parents at a very young age and my life changed dramatically and drastically. My sister and I went from being housed to being homeless, to being in a children’s home, and eventually finding home in the United States,” CeCe says.  “It was no picnic but you have to try to make the best out of everything because the alternative sucks.”

Being A Black Woman In America

CeCe’s story would continue to write itself in Colorado. She says that moving to a completely new country, let alone a new, small town was different, strange, and scary. The culture shock was something she really struggled with.

CeCe’s story would continue to write itself in Colorado. She says that moving to a completely new country, let alone a new, small town was different, strange, and scary. The culture shock was something she really struggled with.

“I have been used as a “prop”; when I was younger a family wanted to introduce their children to a black person. I have had my face licked because a kid thought my skin would taste like chocolate. It was harmless, but still… Going to a store and being constantly watched and followed— the stares… Simply because someone is different don’t stare, ask them a question instead,” CeCe explains. “And, a little bit of advice from me to everyone: please ask before touching someone’s hair.”

As a black woman, she has had to continuously challenge and fight against stereotypes.

“Being a black woman in America in the midst of culture wars is a challenge on its own. You are automatically placed in a box check-marked with all stereotypes associated with the color of your skin. You have to disprove you are not all the things someone has deemed you to be simply because you are different. It is up to me and us to not only change, but also challenge these stereotypes. Black women can be loud or quiet. Black women can be whomever they choose to be” CeCe explains. “It just sucks that I have to constantly show that I do not belong locked up in that stereotypical box. I have to prove myself over and over again.”

The 2 C’s of Life: CeCe & Change

CeCe’s upbringing taught her a lot of things about life— one of which is it’s always better to help people.

“A lot of us think that you have to move a mountain in order to bring change. I have found that sometimes even small movements bring about change. You can always make a difference. It’s always better to help people. It makes me forget that this life can be hard,” CeCe says.

The thought of helping others and creating change resonated so deeply with CeCe that it was only natural for her to pursue a career path that let her do just that, help others. Her first gig was a job working with seniors at a Senior Center. This job would eventually lead her to where she is today at Laradon.

Working at Laradon has allowed CeCe to live out the motto of seeing a person and all they encompass and not just one aspect of who they are.

“It is so important to see everyone as a person first. I am CeCe, I am a dog mom, a wife, a volunteer, a knitter, etc. but those are things that make me, me. I think disability is an aspect of who someone is and not their whole being. It is very important when working in the intellectual and developmental disability community to have a person-centered mindset. The moment you see their disability first, you see their limitations first. You have to see who they are as a person,” CeCe explains.

CeCe isn’t just making tidal waves at Laradon. She creates change wherever she goes. She is currently a volunteer at the Senior Center and Children’s Hospital. Not to mention, she owns her own non-profit where she raises money to pay for kids to go to high school from the children’s home she once lived at.

“Be proud of who you are,” CeCe shared. “Be unapologetically you. Taking pride in everything that has led you to the now. I say that with utmost confidence. Everything I have gone through in my life, from hungry nights to cancer to the hardest years of my life, I wouldn’t change these things. They have made me who I am. A strong larger than Life proud black woman, among other things.”

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