Michaela SmithMichaela Smith Pell City High School St. Clair County Michaela had always been an active student participating in her school as a competitive cheerleader and dancer. When in her freshman year, after experiencing agonizing and difficulty breathing, she went in for an EKG test. She says she remembers lying on the cold table watching the nurse’s expression as she repeated the test several times.
At the age of 14, she was handed a life altering diagnosis-Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome. Her heart had an extra electrical pathway creating serious abnormal heartbeats. She was told she would never dance, participate in cheerleading or any other physically active sport. The cardiology unit at UAB became her second home. Miraculously over time the disease began to weaken and surgery was no longer needed. The miracle continued and she was finally cleared by her doctors to return to cheerleading. Michaela’s life appeared to have returned to normal but her family which had grown stronger through her illness was soon torn apart by betrayal. Michaela and her mother became innocent victims losing their home, enduring financial loss, embarrassment and depression. The subsequent litigation and school absences impacted Michaela’s GPA but she has worked diligently to repair it and was inducted into the National Honor Society. She received the UCA Leadership Award, Heart of Service Award, performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, continued her cheerleading, Diamond Doll, worked and soared as Peer Helper. Every Tuesday night she travels to the Boys and Girls Club to play games with the children and help serve dinner. She also volunteers at the local DHR office. Michaela writes “We should all wear our scars proudly, because they are our greatest achievement. When you look back at your own scars, you realize that you were never broken at all; not broken but a testimony. A spectacular display of the beauty of tragedy and the beauty of choice; the choice to overcome, and to use all of the seemingly “broken” pieces of yourself to console another lost soul when they too, feel broken. We are all tainted masterpieces working together to brighten the world, one victory at a time”. This fall, Michaela will begin a new chapter in her life pursuing a degree in Psychology at Auburn University.