BRIGHAM CITY — Kiara Trussell spent a good portion of her life believing her dream of being a cheerleader was unattainable.
Now, the 17-year-old Box Elder senior is in the midst of realizing that dream. Can you blame her if she doesn’t exactly put her health first when deciding whether or not to show up for an event?
Trussell has a progressive neurological disease called Friedreich’s ataxia, a disease that has confined her to a wheelchair. Until this school year, Trussell thought the disease would prevent her from being accepted.
With the support of assistant cheer coach Trudy Mair, Trussell tried out this year and made the team.
Trussell showed up at a wrestling meet in December just hours after an operation to have a feeding tube placed in her.
On the night of Box Elder’s homecoming football game, Trussell braved the snow to perform her duties.
“I regret not doing it before now because the girls have been so good,” Trussell said.
Trussell first noticed symptoms when she was 9. Her hands would shake to the point that she had trouble writing. The disease has since progressed to the point where Trussell requires a wheelchair. Her speech has also been impacted, although she’s able to have conversations.
According to her mother, Jessica Mecham, her cognitive abilities have not declined.
Trussell considered herself “pretty flexible” before the initial onset of symptoms and said she enjoyed dancing. She thought her cheerleader dreams were shattered right when she was diagnosed and never bothered to try out until Mair encouraged her to do so.
“Everyone should be able to at least try,” Mair said.
Mair has been impressed by Trussell’s determination.
“She really does do a good job,” Mair said. “She has a lot of things that she has to overcome, and she pushes forward.”
Senior Kiarra Smith said Trussell will help perform the cheers and then cheer the cheerleaders on when they’re doing their stunts. She also comes up with team-building exercises.
“It definitely brings us closer,” Smith said. “I feel like it makes us all want to be positive because she’s so positive.”