Michigan

Ann Arbor

Malia

Hello! My name is Malia, and I'm 15 years old. I'm in my HS marching band flag line, and I play the flute during concert season! I'm also a competitive dancer and act in shows with Community Ensemble Theatre (CET) and Professional Youth Theatre of Michigan (PYTMI) throughout the year. From my preschool years through early seventh grade, I was a gymnast. You could always find me in our basement or the backyard practicing my back handsprings or arching my spine until my feet rested on my shoulders.


In the fall of seventh grade, my mom noticed my right hip sticking out and took me to the doctor who referred me to orthopedics at Mott Children's Hospital. It was too late for an easy treatment. X-rays revealed a severe S curve: my top curve was 29 degrees and my bottom one was 50, beyond what is typically treated with bracing. I was scheduled for spinal fusion T6-L4 that January. I was devastated and I thought I would never be able to bend my back again. By the date of the surgery, my lower curve had grown to nearly 35 degrees. The procedure went off without a hitch and I grew from 4' 6" to 4' 9" that

day. After a mentally and physically challenging recovery, I was relieved to be back in school, only to have it shut down after a week and a half. I spent quarantine slowly working towards my goal of getting my back handspring again. I'm not quite there yet, but I've regained a surprising amount of flexibility, and recently able to perform a backbend again.


I'm super excited to be leading this group so I can help other girls through similar situations to mine. I hopefully can be an inspiration, living proof that even titanium rods running up and down your back can't stop you from continuing to grow and achieving great things!