If you've ever tried to run a mile but thought you couldn't, this story's for you. If you think you don't have what it takes to graduate from high school, this story's for you.
Kylie Webster, 21, is an Alpine native who never says never. She's in heaven because for her, heaven is anything that deals with basketball!
"I always grew up with it. My sister played it. My two brothers played it. I've always just loved it," she said.
"I love it more because I can't play it I guess, but I eventually hope that one day I'll be able to," she added.
Kylie was born in American Fork in 1987 and was walking just nine months later. Like her older sister Emily, Kylie was destined for hoops. But less than a year later, her mother, Timmie Lynn Webster, knew something wasn't quite right. "By about 17 months I could tell her gate was a little abnormal and she began to fall a lot," her mother said.
Three years and dozens of hospital visits later, the Websters finally received the diagnosis: Leigh's disease, a very rare neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system. Most children with Leigh's don't live past age 8. "They said, 'Just start her in kindergarten,' they said, 'but don't worry about educating her. Just keep her happy because she won't need an education,'" her mother said.
Those were fighting words, and Kylie, they were finding out, was the ultimate warrior. "The neurologist said she just has pure grit. She said that's the only way I can describe her is pure grit," Timmie Lynn said.
How else would you describe this eighth grader who made the cheer squad though she couldn't jump, or the ninth grader who decided to run track though she couldn't run? "You know, I just used my walker and did it as best I could. I just wanted the right to try," Kylie said.
That's all she has ever wanted, especially after what she called a turning point. As a sophomore at Lone Peak High School, her parents were told Kylie would never graduate. "I was like, no, I'm going to. And I did, and I got a real diploma," she said. "And coming here (Snow College) and trying to get an associates (degree), I'm going to do it," she added.
Kylie figures she'll graduate from Snow in 2010. Her goal is to get a degree in special education. In the meantime, she keeps busy on campus helping the Lady Badgers as team manager. She does everything from managing the clock to filling water bottles. She's even on scholarship, thanks to Head Coach Cindy Lindsay, who coached Kylie's older sister.
"She's just an inspiration to everyone. Her attitude; she just comes in the gym and lights everyone up," Lindsay said.
"If you come in to practice and you're having a rough day, you see her over there and you say, OK, I've got to go work hard every day for her," she added.
Cami Hymas, a Snow basketball player, said, "Kylie's here every day with us. She's so awesome. All of us love her so much. She's always so happy."
Especially happy since the team announced that this season would be dedicated to Kylie. The theme: Do it for her. "I started crying when I first found out because I wanted to play so bad. When they're out there, it's like this is for me because I can't do it myself," Kylie said.
And Kylie says that's just fine. Her life, she says, is perfect just the way it is. "I've always been just happy for who I am," she said, "and I wouldn't change it for a million dollars."
"She always talks about when she goes to heaven, she's going to beat us all in basketball," a teammate says. That would be heaven!
Once she graduates with a degree in special education, Kylie wants to help children understand they can accomplish great things, as well.
By the way, the Lady Badgers are currently in second place in the SWAC conference at 7-2, 16-8 overall.