It's a Friday night in the fall and that means you can find Bethany Wissler cheering on her Whitmer panthers. She's your typical high school student. Bethany enjoys time with her friends, she loves cheerleading and has always dreamed of being the homecoming queen.
Bethany's path to cheerleader for the panthers has been unique. Bethany was born with down syndrome. The youngest of five kids, she has had to overcome obstacles just to be alive.
"When they pulled her out it was a shock. I was unhappy. I was sad and I was scared," said Kathy Wissler, Bethany's mother.
Quickly anger turned to fear. At just five months Bethany had to have heart surgery at the University of Michigan.
"When I saw her hooked up at University of Michigan. All the wires. I prayed so hard that I would get the opportunity to be her mom," said Kathy.
The surgery as most things in life proved to be no match for Bethany. She's grown up and lived a happy, healthy life. Cheerleading is one of her greatest passions.
"I like to cheerlead, and shaking my pom poms with my hands up in the air. And I like the attention," said Bethany.
Bethany's story is far from over. This year she decided to run for Homecoming Queen. After a long process, she made it to the homecoming court.
"I didn't want her to be disappointed and I kept telling her ‘ok Beth you can run if you want but just to get nominated is great.' And she kept telling me ‘No mom I'm gonna win.'and I'm like ‘ok," said Kathy.
During halftime of Whitmer's Homecoming game, Bethany was being escorted across the field by her parents when she heard the announcer say "and the 2013 homecoming queen is...Bethany Wissler."
"You want them to be accepted among their peers and seeing her out there it just gives her confidence knowing she's just like everybody else," said Kathy.