"When I first got out here and they gave me a flag pole, I was just spinning it and they were like, oh, my gosh, you're really good, So I kept spinning it."
Avonlea Dunn was spinning even though she was in excruciating pain.
She adds, "I just try to put it out of my mind and think about other things."
The pain forced Avonlea out of school for six months. When she was able to return to school this year as a junior, she not only made the Color Guard Squad, she was named its Captain.
The amazing part of her story is she went through tryouts and even this football season keeping her condition a secret from her teachers and most of her friends.
Avonlea says, " I hate pity. The people who did know were like, oh, my gosh, are you okay? What's going on, do you need help? Here, let me carry you. I hate that."
Mom Denita Dunn says, "She threatened me if I told anyone. She didn't want anyone to feel sorry for her. She says, ‘if I'm good, I want to be good on my own, not because someone feels sorry for me.’ She wanted to be just like everyone else and for everyone to see her for exactly what she can do, not what she can't do."
So, all season, she pushed through the pain.
Her mom says "I sit up in the stands and try not to let anybody see me sitting here squalling my eyes out. It's a good cry though, because I'm proud of her and I know how hard she's working.”
“I've seen her out there sometimes and I know she's having an attack and you would never know it if you didn't know her. She just works right through it. Yeah, I spend a lot of time crying.”
Longtime friend Sky Kloess believes Avonlea's story will help others.
"I think they'll be inspired by it. She's been through a lot, her body shouldn't do the things that she's doing, but she pushes through it every day."
"What pushes you? What makes you want to do more?
"I want to be a doctor."
Her mom says, "I think one of these days I'll be calling her Dr. Dunn."
Avonlea will have to fight these conditions for the rest of her life. For now her appetite is back and she's up to 95 pounds. She's hoping her story will show others who are considered "disabled" just how far they can go with determination.
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