SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A South Dakota State University cheerleader is on the road to recovery after having part of her leg amputated last week due to a rare condition.
Brianna DeMarais has always loved cheerleading. However, for more than a year and a half, she struggled with severe pain in her feet, and the blood flow to her feet was poor. This led to a very difficult decision.
She always knew she would be a cheerleader.
“It first started when my sisters cheered, so when I was little. And watching their competitions, I loved, I wanted to do what they did,” she said.
Brianna was part of the cheerleading team at Harrisburg High School and is now part of the SDSU team.
Isaballe Rabbe is the SDSU cheer coach and has known Brianna since she was born.
“If you could have a team made up of just Brianna, that would be the perfect team because she’s strong-willed, she’s determined, she’s kind,” Rabbe said.
Brianna cheered during Jack’s football home opener on September 10, but the pain in her foot became unbearable.
“She sent us a picture and we sent it to the doctor and he said you have to come right away, so we went right away,” Brianna’s mother Shelley DeMarais said.
Doctors found blood clots, but could never determine the exact cause.
“They were able to do it, open up her arteries, but when they did, they said it was like the interstate going into the garage where all this blood could get to her foot, but the smaller little vessels couldn’t bring it back to her tissues to get oxygen to her tissues,” said Brianna’s father, Bob DeMarais.
And instead of getting better, it got worse.
“It got to the point where it was life or limb, so we made that decision,” Bob said.
“It made me very sad and emotional because obviously you’re losing a part of your body. And then cheerleading, I was like I can’t cheer anymore until I feel better,” Brianna.
Her amputation was last Wednesday. The support she saw from her team and people everywhere was overwhelming.
“I’m thankful for everyone and what they’re doing to help me,” Brianna said.
Brianna and everyone around her are determined to get back into cheerleading again soon.
“If there’s a will, there’s a way, and you know, some people said there’s a way, so if that’s true, she’ll be back,” Bob said.
“I’m so excited to get my braces so I can cheer again and get back to what I love,” Brianna said.
Brianna says the plan is to get the prosthetic leg in 2 to 3 months. He will continue his rehabilitation and hopes to cheer again next school year.
If you want to help her on this journey, you can find a GoFundMe page here.
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