WEST MEMPHIS, Ark.- A West Memphis cheerleader is preparing for a second corrective leg surgery next month.
Lilah Ward has achondroplasia, which is the most common form of dwarfism. People who have achondroplasia have an average torso but short arms and legs. There is also a high risk for several serious health issues from sleep apnea to narrowing of the spinal column.
Ward has not let achondroplasia stop her from accomplishing what she wants to do. She joined the cheerleading squad in seventh grade.
Once Ward got over her nervousness about being tossed in the air and posing on the shoulders of her teammates, she developed a passion for the sport.
Pain associated with bowed legs, which is a common issue for people with achondroplasia, started to make it difficult for her to cheer at games.
Ward and her mom then consulted with Dan Hoernschemeyer, MD, who determined the eighth-grader would benefit from surgery to straighten her legs. Ward and her mom first met Hoernschemeyer in 2011 at a Little People of America meeting in Wichita, Kansas. In September, Hoernschemeyer repositioned the bones in Ward’s lower left leg.
Ward will have the same surgery on her right leg in March.
Ward’s goal is to swim this summer and cheer next fall.
Ward will likely face more health issues related to achondroplasia in the future.