ROCKWALL, Texas — Cheerleaders cheer to boost spirit.
Seventeen-year-old cheerleader Brooke Walker is remarkable because nothing breaks hers.
In March, the Rockwall Heath High School cheerleader felt pain in her ankle. Her parents took her to see several doctors.
“Being an athlete, you get pulled muscles, twisted ankles all the time,” Brooke told WFAA.
“So I just thought it would go away.”
One night though, Brooke’s pain got so bad her parents rushed her to urgent care. The team there said Brooke needed to go to the emergency room.
That’s where doctors told the high school junior she had an arterial blood clot.
“We asked [the doctors], ‘We don’t have to worry about losing toes or anything, right?’ And they were like, ‘Oh no!’ Fast forward it got a little bit worse," she said.
Surgeons tried to save Brooke’s foot three times.
"[Then] the doctor that was on call there said, 'I don’t think it’s savable…'" Brooke’s father, Anthony Walker, told WFAA.
Surgeons removed her leg from a few inches below the knee in a fourth surgery.
“My mom was on one side, my dad was on the other,” Brooke said about waking up after the operation.
“They were holding my hand, and I was like, 'okay I'm ready to see it.' And it was really tough at first. Seeing what my leg would look like for the rest of my life,” Brooke cried.
Brooke stayed in the hospital for a month. Her parents never left her alone.
“Things would hit her and she would really break down,” Brooke’s mom, Kerri Walker, said. “And sometimes all you could do was hold her and let her…let the emotion out.”
During that time, Brooke said her spirit strengthened. She prayed with her doctors and nurses, wrote Bible verses on her bandages and listened to worship songs on her way in and out of surgeries.
“I just prayed that God’s plan would be fulfilled in my life because that’s the only way I could justify it for good,” she said. “Is that I don’t know what’s happening and He does, and He has a plan for me.”
Part of that plan, Brooke believes, is to share what’s happened to her publicly. She wants to show people bad things don’t have to ruin a good life.
“I told my mom in the hospital, if just one person gets saved from my story, then that was really worth the foot. You know?” Brooke said.
Brooke's father told WFAA his daughter’s positivity and strength in spirit has amazed him.
“You just hope if something like this happened to you that you’d respond the same way,” Anthony Walker said. “I hope I would. But I don’t know if I would. To watch her do it is inspiring.”
Brooke believes part of God’s plan is also for her to get back on the mat.
“I was worried when this happened that I wouldn’t have the skills to cheer in college,” she said.
“But that’s not going to stop me from trying out.”
Brooke’s already learned to do a few cheer moves from her wheelchair, but needs a prosthetic to really practice.
She’s fundraising for one now, and her teammates can’t wait to have her back.
“I am so excited!” Her teammate, Anna Cepak, gushed to WFAA. “So excited. So excited.”
“If anyone can do it it’s Brooke,” another teammate, Grace Stilley, said.
“You can either go through something like this and be a disabled person for the rest of your life,” Brooke told WFAA.
“Or you can go through something like this and be just a normal person with a prosthetic. And that's the choice I made.”