Shining from the Sideline: Cheerleader with MS works to overcome disease

(WSVN) - From the peewee league to the pros, cheerleaders pump you up through good times and bad. But one University of Miami cheerleader is using her sport to stay motivated through a tough time in her own life. 7’s Alex de Armas shows us how this cheerleader is shining from the sideline in our special report.

Since she was four, Sidney has dreamed of being a cheerleader for the University of Miami.

Sidney Sterling: “I grew up a Cane. I grew up going to the Orange Bowl, wearing my cheerleading uniform.”

But when she was 16, that dream was put on hold after she lost feeling in her arm. She thought it was a pinched nerve until her doctor gave her the devastating news: she had multiple sclerosis.

Sidney Sterling: “When the doctor told me, ‘You have MS,’ I was like, ‘What is that?'”

MS is a disease that impacts your nervous system and there is no cure. Sidney was devastated.

Sidney Sterling: “I didn’t know what the future held because when you’re 16, you’re thinking about college and I was mad. It was getting in the way of my dreams.”

Dr. Kottil Rammaohan, UM Miller School of Medicine: “It’s a disease of young people that are just getting started with their life.”

Her doctor at the Miller School of Medicine refused to let her give up on her dreams. He started her on medicine and told her to stay active.

Dr. Kottil Rammaohan: “Participate in things that you normally would have participated in had you not had this diagnosis. It’s such a devastating thing, but it’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of a journey.”

Sidney’s journey has been rocky at times…

Sidney Sterling: “MS makes me more tired. MS makes me kinda forget things sometimes. There’s sometimes when my fingers will go numb just a little bit, my fingertips.”

Despite the rough times, Sidney has pushed through. And four years after her diagnosis, she’s living her dream as a captain on the all-girl cheer team at UM.

She has also gotten active in the Shop to Stop MS campaign which raises awareness for MS research. The group is also a support system for her.

Sidney Sterling: “I realized if I turned the situation into a positive, I could not only change the perspective of MS for myself but for the community. I see them living happy, successful lives and they have beautiful families and it gives me hope that I’m going to be like that some day. I’m going to have a bright future.”

She admits it is scary being diagnosed with MS, but says the disease has made her a better person and she’s proud to be shining from the sideline.

Sidney Sterling: “I think about everyone who is dealing with it and I need to be their leader. MS is not a curse. It’s a blessing for me and it has given me a purpose in this community.”

Sidney is enjoying cheering for her ‘Canes every weekend and she says she hopes to be cheering them on in a bowl game soon. To learn more about multiple sclerosis and how the Shop to Stop campaign is helping, the links are below.


Dr. Rammohan’s Profile:

Shop to Stop MS:

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