High school is tough enough without having to deal with a serious and potentially life threatening illness. But for Kendall Bayne, her disadvantage inspired others and pushed her to be strong.
Bayne suffers from a rare and serious cancer that affects her adrenal system. It's been two years since the Cave Spring High School student has been well enough to join her cheer leading squad. But Friday, at the team's opening game against William Byrd High School, the team and the community welcomed her back with open arms.
To quote those who know her best, positive is the one word best describes Kendall Bayne.
"She was always so positive. She always has been, she always will be. We just missed that. We all missed it," Bayne's best friend, Julia Weston, told Your Hometown News Leader.
Kendall is a proud senior this year at Cave Spring High School and a beloved member of its cheer leading squad. But a rare cancer, affecting her adrenal system, kept her from everything she loved for years.
"Going to school because I love it and cheer leading of course and just missing things that I should've been at chemo was always hard, but now it's like, that's done and I'm just moving forward," Bayne said.
Still, she never lost hope.
"I remember when I was first diagnosed just fear of the unknown but I've got it together and my hair's growing back and I'm back in school and I'm starting to feel normal again."
And that didn't go unnoticed to her coaches. They always considered Kendall part of the squad regardless of her illness.
"We kept her on her roster, we kept her as our competition team manager, always knowing that there would be a day that she would get to come back and today is that day," Cave Spring High School Cheer leading Coach, Jennifer McDaniel told WDBJ7.
Full of life with a contagious laugh, Kendall never lost faith during her ordeal; a value her family takes pride in.
"She's been such an inspiration to so many. She's touched so many people during her journey. I'm just so glad she be a kid again. I'm so proud to be her father," Jere Bayne said.
You'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't see Kendall as an inspiration. Even her opponents welcomed her back to the field with open arms. It's just part of her personality, say those that know her best, and more importantly, the legacy she'll leave behind.
"We want everyone to embody what Kendall represents which is her spirit and her drive to succeed at anything that's thrown at her," McDaniel said.