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Tehya was born with the most severe form of Spina Bifida. Lipomyelomeningocele occurs when the spinal cord is exposed through an opening in the spine, resulting in partial or complete paralysis of parts of the body. The paralysis may be so severe that the affected individual is unable to walk, and he or she may have other issues affecting neurological function.

Tehya's parents were told before she was born that she might have little to no quality of life. To that they replied, "Well thank goodness you are not in charge of her quality of life!"

So she he grew up without boundaries and there was no activity or sport that was beyond her reach. Soon the girl who wasn't supposed to walk became a competitive cheerleader, gymnast and swimmer. Even though she's had multiple surgeries throughout her life, she thrived in her active environment and with the patient support of her gymnastics coach, Aaron Zink, she was able to tumble and cheer with her teammates.

A few months after her third spinal cord surgery, her medical condition mysteriously deteriorated and she started to lose function. She was no longer able to walk or run, and she suffered from debilitating headaches, neck and back pain, and several other neurological deficits. She was no longer able to attend school regularly and was tutored at home. Once active with friends and after-school activities, she spent her days at doctor appointments and in bed with severe pain.

After months of traveling and endless hours of research, Tehya and her parents were finally able to get the answers that they needed from a specialist in New York. The recommendation was for Tehya to undergo a radical spinal cord surgery, but Tehya and her family decided to try alternative therapies before contemplating another serious operation.

Through all of this, Tehya worked diligently through her pain, and although she missed many days of school due to severe pain and illness, she was able to maintain her 4.0 grade point average. She went on to run for ASB President and won the honor to represent her school.

  • Presidential Award for Academic Excellence
  • 2012 Homecoming Queen
  • 2011 Little Flower Award (St. Thérèse of Lisieux)
  • National Honor Society - 4.0 GPA
  • CCHS Ambassador for Christ Corps
  • Sophomore Class President
  • JV Cheer Captain
  • Heart of Oak Valley Award
  • ASB Class President - 8th Grade

As the year passed, she continued to struggle through painful days, but she made it through and actually received two awards at her graduation ceremony.

She received the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence which is given to students who are able to maintain a 4.0 GPA. She also received the esteemed "Heart of Oak Valley Award", which is given to two students each year. This award recognized Tehya as someone who consistently displayed the "Six Pillars of Character" - Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship.

As you can see, although Tehya has faced many obstacles in her life, she does not let those challenges stop her from enjoying herself, inspiring others, and participating in many activities. She hopes to make a difference in this world with her postive, uplifting attitude.

She found her strength when it was so difficult to continue; she used her talents to compensate for her medical condition, and she is sharing her gifts to support the Spina Bifida community and provide loving care to the homeless and those in need.


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