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Winnebago student given a 2% chance of living at birth makes cheerleading debut

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WINNEBAGO (WREX) — Sarah Hinde was born just 22 weeks into her mom's pregnancy, and she's used the doctor's evaluation at her birth as motivation throughout her life.

"I only weighed one pound, five ounces with a 2% chance of survival," Hinde said. "My doctor said I would never be able to talk or walk if I even lived."

Only a few years after she was born, Hinde learned how to walk with a walker, then crutches and then by herself. Her hard work adapting to life with cerebral palsy was all geared towards one thing.

"My goal during that whole time when I was learning how to walk was to be a cheerleader," Hinde said.

But a growth spurt when she was a teenager brought more strife. Hinde's bones didn't grow in unison with her muscles and tendons. Slowly, she lost her ability to walk with an intensive surgery being the only way to salvage the progress she's worked so hard for.

"My legs just continued to get worse," Hinde said. "I thought at some point, I wasn't going to be able to walk."

Hinde's surgery included moving her muscles, tendons and kneecaps, and even reshaping her femurs. Her surgery and rehab were a success, leading her back to the precipice of her dream, the Winnebago High School Cheer Squad. Coach Haylee O'Sullivan picked out Hinde's glowing school spirit from a mile away.

"Anybody and everybody has school spirit and pride for wherever they're at, but it's extra special when Sarah comes out here because she doesn't limit herself to what she can and can't do," O'Sullivan said.

On August 27, Hinde's dream came true. She debuted under the lights at the stadium she loved from the first time she went to a Winnebago football game.

"I thought that at one point I was going to end up in a wheelchair, not be able to walk one day, but here I was, Friday night, being able to cheer at my first football game," Hinde said.

Once Hinde graduates from Winnebago in the spring, she wants to become a motivational speaker and inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Author Profile Photo

William Ingalls

William Ingalls is the weekend reporter at WREX. He joined the team in 2019 as a photographer after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and English from Augustana College. William was born and raised in Rockford and went to high school at Christian Life.

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