Heroes Among Us: 11 yr old Samantha Battles Dystonia
GAINESVILLE- A rite of passage for most kids, was unattainable for one North Central Florida girl until recently. In new TV20 series "Heroes Among Us" we show you how an 11 year old battling Dystonia is inspiring others with her journey on the volleyball court.
When Samantha Staab passes or sets a ball it requires way more than hand/eye coordination. Battling a rare disorder called Dystonia her muscles can have a mind of their own. But her mind is set clearly on a goal.
Samantha Staab said, "I feel excited and I can't wait to win on Friday..."
A year and a half ago... Sammy, as her teammates call her, was in a wheelchair. Since diagnosed with the rare neurological disorder when she was 7 surgeries and hours of challenging therapy have been the norm. But it was Samantha's attitude and the dream of playing volleyball that drove her.
Samantha's mom Michelle Staab said, "I know when she get's fatigued, she get's uncomfortable and pain sets in, but she just- she's motivated to play through it."
This is a struggle the Staab family is all too familiar with. Older brother Tyler was diagnosed years before Sammy and inspired Michelle and Rick to create fundraising organization "Tyler's Hope for a Dystonia Cure."
Samantha's dad Rick Staab said, "Their muscles compete against each other and contract at the same time when one should be relaxed and one should be contracting... so it twists em up, makes all just normal movements very difficult."
When the movements becomes painful, Sammy often works through tears... and not even a surgery mid season stopped her. Instead it was extra motivation for her team.
Coach Scott Costello said, "They'll look at Sammy fighting through everything and they just suck it up and go and they go a little bit harder... When Sammy missed two games cause she had surgery- they're rallying cry was let's do it for Sammy."
11 year old teammate Lindsay Costello said, "Never stopping, never doubting herself and I know that if she can go through that and still be herself then I can to."
But the idea that she's a hero, an inspiration- is somewhat foreign to the 6th grader. It's that attitude, which Sammy and her brother share, that could be the key to success.
Michelle said, "The fact that they don't want to be different and we don't treat them any different, I think that is one thing... and laughter... we joke a lot in our house."
There is plenty of laughter and support on the volleyball court as Sammy's team known as "The Red Hots" take on the district tournament at Girl's Place.
12 year old teammate Elizabeth Langford said, "We're all one team, so we all come together in the end and we all help each other."
But playing in the big game for this exceptional young lady, goes beyond teamwork. Her courage and commitment are truly extraordinary.
Samantha said, "Just try to have a good attitude and always stay positive."
And while working to raise awareness for a cure to Dystonia, Samantha Staab will maintain that quiet, humble strength... living as a "Hero Among Us."
The Red Hots volleyball team made it all the way to the championship game over the weekend, but lost by two points.
For more information on Dystonia research and treatment... you can visit http://www.tylershope.org/
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