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