A group of inspiring young athletes with special needs stole the show at the Cheer NB provincial cheerleading championships last weekend.
Among them was a Moncton woman who has proven she has the grit and determination of a true champion.
“I had to lift someone up,” said 22-year-old Carley Hopper, who performed with Moncton’s Olympia Allstar Cheerleading.
Hopper is on a cheerleading team with a group of young women, all with special needs. Performing at the provincials in front of a hometown crowd in Moncton over the weekend was their big moment.
It was a lot of pressure, according to Hopper’s mother Shelley Sherwood-Hopper. She had to make sure her daughter was ready to handle the stress and that all of her medications were in order.
“She was born in distress, the cord was wrapped around her neck and so she had seizures when she was born,” Sherwood-Hopper said, adding that even though her daughter takes medication every day, the seizures have never really stopped.
Hopper said she knew when the seizure was coming on: “It feels like a tickle in my throat.”
On Sunday, just before getting set onstage for their big routine, Hopper felt that dreaded tickle.
“She had a seizure in the bathroom,” said her mother.
WATCH: Young N.B. cancer survivor sells paintings to raise money for other kids
That’s when she and a group of strangers huddled in the washroom and became Hopper’s personal cheerleaders.
“It was awesome because usually people just look away,” said Sherwood-Hopper.
They gathered around to make sure she was safe while the seizure went on for two agonizing minutes.
“I said, ‘Are you able to get up?’ and she said, ‘Yes.’ She wanted to do her part because she had to lift the girls,” said Sherwood-Hopper, who added that her daughter often needs to rest after a seizure.
“It does make me a little tired,” Hopper said.
No one, including her mother, thought that she would have the strength to compete.
But mere minutes after her seizures stopped, Hopper hit the stage much to the amazement of her squad and their parents.
All decked out in their purple bling, they danced, kicked and rolled through their routine in front of a crowd of roaring and adoring fans.
Sherwood-Hopper said her daughter did her job and hoisted her teammate high into the air: “I am very proud of her.”