GIRARD — In 2010, doctors would have never guessed Cierra Brumback would play almost every sport in high school — they thought she would be more likely to be wheelchair-bound.
Cierra’s parents were told she would have a low chance of ever walking again after she was shot in the leg.
“I guess I showed them wrong,” Cierra said.
She started out with softball, then track and the last three years in high school she marched in band. Cierra also played varsity golf and in her senior year she was on varsity cheer.
“I’ve pretty much played every sport in every season,” she said.
Figuring out how to repair her leg was like an “experiment,” she said. Some doctors declined to take her injury on. After a combination of surgeries, needing a wheelchair or crutches are is thing of the past, but she will be undergoing more surgeries in the future to help her use her leg the best she can.
Helping her accomplish this through the years was Shriners Hospital for Children. She was accepted into the hospital because her doctor happened to work at Mercy Hospital and the Shriners.
The hospital serves children who have experienced burn trauma, need orthopedics, spinal injuries, cleft lip and palate. They serve any child regardless of ability to pay.
Through the Shriners, her family was able to receive reimbursement for gas to travel back and forth from the hospital in St. Louis, Missouri and more.
When Cierra came back to school with an ankle-foot orthoses and leg braces, she had a lot to overcome, she said.
Cierra said she found herself in a “bad place” where she began to isolate herself and was angry.
“I was always mad because and thinking ‘why would this happen to me so young,’” she said. “But now I’m glad it happened to me.
“I made friends because of it, maybe not the way I wanted it to be, but they are the ones staying with me for life.”
Her father encouraged her to keep trying and he awarded her each time she stepped out of her “comfort zone,” she said.
Several years ago, Cierra was invited to go to the Shrine Bowl, the annual football game fundraiser to support the hospital. The Shriners then asked if she would like to join the Masonic Band, which plays in the parade and during halftime at the game.
Playing the trumpet in the band was one of the many things which brought her back year after year, she said.
“It’s more of a family thing,” she said. “But, doing the Shriners Hospital Experience is more humbling of an experience.”
The Shriners Hospital Experience is an event where children who who once were, or currently are, patients at the Shriners Hospital — called Patient Ambassadors — give the Shrine Bowl football players, cheerleaders and band members a “hands-on” experience through demonstrations and speeches.
During these events she said, “no matter the trouble you’re going through the outcome is always 10 times better.”
When she became a patient ambassador, Cierra said she was shy and felt uncomfortable with talking in front of crowds, but now feels comfortable sharing her story.
As an ambassador, she gave demonstrations on pediatric orthotics and prosthetics.
Braces and prosthetics could make people feel sad, but Cierra said she encourages people to not worry so much about cosmetics because, “it’s what gets you through life.”
“I think a lot of people worry a lot about what they look like to impress other people,” she said. “With prosthetics, you have to learn to love yourself.”
She created bonds and friendships created uniquely through Shriners Hospital.
“Madelyn and Katie are the first two people I met there,” she said. “They’ve always been really nice, they both gone through so much in life.
“Both of them really made me want to step out of my comfort zone after seeing what they’ve gone through.”
Cierra was selected to be a Kansas representative for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Los Angeles during the opening of another hospital, where she met another friend who had lost both of her legs and her fingers to meningitis.
If it were not for the incident with her leg, Cierra said, she would never have met friends like these.
“I don’t think I would have friends like that if those experiences had not have happened,” she said.
For her dedication to volunteering and participating in band, Cierra received $10,000 Kansas Masonic Foundation Scholarship last Friday.
“I had no idea, they didn’t really tell us,” she said. “I was very surprised.
“I want to thank Mirza Shriners for giving me the opportunity to speak in front of everyone, I know I’d still be in a shell of my own without them.”
In a little over two weeks, Cierra will be at Emporia State University to study athletic training and pre-physical therapy. Cierra said she feels like she can make connection with athletes when they tear their ACL or break their leg because of her experience.
“I think I’m going towards being athletic trainer,” she said. “Being in the hospital isn’t really my sitting, but being able to help people is really something l love.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. To nominate someone for Patrick's People send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org