Crone student fights through brain cancer and finds second home with Blue Dynasty CheerAbilities

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In just 36 hours, Sophia Miller went from a healthy and active ten-year-old to having brain cancer and not being able to walk or talk.

“I think that everybody has their own difficulties in life and they have to stay strong, and think about the good things, and not on the bad parts,” said Sophia Miller.

Extensive brain surgery at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital

Sophia was rushed to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital on May 10, 2021, after a large mass was found on a CT scan. The Miller family received the heartbreaking news that Sophia has Medulloblastoma Brain Cancer. Two days later, Sophia underwent extensive brain surgery to remove the tumor and stop the spread. 

Although the surgery was successful, Sophia was unable to communicate with anyone upon waking up due to Posterior Fossa Syndrome. The syndrome which develops in one out of four children after surgery to remove a brain tumor, affects speech, motor skills, and mood, among other symptoms.

How Posterior Fossa Syndrome has altered Sophia’s life

The Posterior Fossa Syndrome left Sophia paralyzed on the right side of her body for about eight months. Through inpatient treatment, she slowly regained her ability to speak and use her right side once again.

Sophia’s childhood went from worrying about her figure skating routine to a new routine of chemotherapy, and Speech, Physical, and Occupational therapies.

“She has resilience like no other, and through this journey, I’ve learned to never take a day for granted,” said Sophia’s mom, Melissa Miller.

Sophia’s support from family and Blue Dynasty Cheerabilities

Through it all, she’s had the constant support of her family.

“What keeps me going is the bright light of my mom, and just knowing that I’m loved, and there’s a lot of people supporting me,” said Sophia.

“I can say that she’s my hero, I’ve seen nothing but resiliency and strength from her,” said Sophia’s dad, Mark Miller.

In July of 2022, Sophia completed her 52 weeks of chemotherapy and won her battle with cancer. In that same month, she stumbled upon, or maybe tumbled upon a cheerleading team. The cancer survivor joined ICE Blue Dynasty CheerAblilites.

Blue Dynasty consists of 17 athletes with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism, to just about anything in between. The team consists of athletes from ages 12 to 36. 

Blue Dynasty CheerAbilities is a second home for local athletes

Kaylee Pellack created the team ten years ago for her sister, who has special needs. Blue Dynasty does a lot of winning, but most importantly, it’s given dozens of athletes a second home, and for people like Sophia, a second chance to compete.

“I swear I learn something new every practice about each of these athletes, they all have their own personalities,” said Pellack. “You learn there’s so much love for the sport and inclusion, and they just want to be like everybody else.”

Sophia’s bond with the team and her coaches is priceless.

Honestly, having this outlet for them and for her to feel included in a team again, it’s just so amazing that they feel at home here and that she’s comfortable and coming out of her skin,” said Pellack. “When she first joined us, she didn’t want to talk much, and now she is the spunkiest child on the team. She has the most sass, It’s the cutest thing.”

Blue Dynasty has become a dynasty in the National Cheerleading Association

Blue Dynasty has won multiple National Cheerleading Association (NCA) National Championships, but the 2024 championship means the most. They beat nine teams from across the country, more than any previous year.

“We actually didn’t do that good the first day,” said Blue Dynasty CheerAbilities athlete, Ashlee East. “But, the second day when Rylee hit her stunt, I looked at her and started yelling ‘Congratulations,’ and we hit the routine.”

With the win at NCA’s, Blue Dynasty will now compete at the International Cheer Union Championship in Disney World, beginning on April 24, which they’ve won three times. Following that, the team will have another chance for some hardware, competing at the Cheerleading Worlds for USASF. 

“It’s really cool, I love competing,” said Sophia. “There’s so much good energy and it’s really fun. Winning is nice because everyone’s so happy, and it’s a joyful experience.”

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