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Kid Captain: Michaela Inman

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | SEPTEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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For six years, Michaela Inman has been following Hawkeye football through its trials and tribulations while experiencing her own, and now she will be rewarded for her perseverance.

“She loves the Iowa Hawkeyes,” said Jenny Inman, Michaela’s mother. “She is a die-hard fan.”

On Saturday, the Ankeny native will experience the game from the eyes of her role models.

Michaela has been selected as the Kid Captain for the upcoming game against Missouri State.

More than 462 nominations were accepted for the honor and just 14 children were selected.

“I am very excited,” Michaela said. “I’m mostly excited to meet the players and actually go out on the field.”

She will be joined by best friend Kaitlyn Farrell, who has accompanied her to games in the past.

Michaela has had a long battle to get to where she is, and not the typical journey of an everyday teenager.

In May 2011 she began to experience pain in her ankle. At the time, her pediatrician did X-rays and attributed the pain to a sports injury because of Michaela’s active role in gymnastics and long-distance running.

In the fall of that year, her discomfort became more frequent and had started to spread up her leg.

After conducting a series of tests, Michaela’s doctor and parents decided to send her to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, where Jose Morcuende, a UI professor of orthopaedic surgery, ordered a bone biopsy.

Michaela was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, an aggressively treated bone cancer, on Dec. 12, 2011.

Within two days, Michaela had a port place in her body for chemotherapy. She began chemo on Dec. 27, 2011. Michaela received 114 doses of chemotherapy, an abnormally high number.  

When she returned to school for the first time after losing her hair, she was greeted by her school’s newly-decorated halls with banners that read “We Fight for Michaela” and “Bald is Beautiful.”

“It was really empowering,” Inman said. “The school completely embraced her and set a positive tone.”

And while the treatment took a toll on Michaela to the point where she could hardly move, her hard-working attitude helped her conquer cancer.

“[At one point] she was so weak we had to lift her in and out of the bathtub,” Inman said.

Carol Barnhart, Michaela’s tutor, worked with her to stay caught up with school work while she was ill. Barnhart said she was impressed with Michaela’s attitude toward tutoring: the middle-schooler made sure to stay ahead in her studies, earning all As while doing the same tests and assignments as the rest of her classmates.

“She was a trouper,” Barnhart said. “She really did put a great effort into trying during the hours we had together. She was really amazing.”

On Nov. 16, 2012, following 11 months of intense chemotherapy, Michaela’s treatments concluded.

“Today, we are 10 months from treatment, and she is cancer free,” Inman said, noting that she has seen Michaela start to return to her old self, with her energy coming back full force.

Although doctors have suggested that Michaela refrain from running or jumping for the next two years, Inman said that has been challenged.

“Her ankle is a little weak, and she could injure it, but I cannot keep her still,” she said.

Following the treatment, Michaela and her mother wanted to find a way to give back to families and kids with cancer.

Noting the UI’s connection, they decided to reach out to “Beat Cancer Today,” an organization aiding in fighting childhood cancer.

In recent months, they have helped design “Beat Cancer” shirts for Ankeny’s two high schools, in which all of the funds have been given to a number of organizations that helped Michaela survive cancer, including the Children’s Cancer Connection and UI Dance Marathon.

And now, the UI will be giving back to Michaela as she takes the field on Saturday with her fellow Hawkeye fanatic Kaitlyn. Her friends and family are thrilled to see her honored as a Kid Captain.

“I think she definitely deserves it,” said Wendy Farrell, Kaitlyn’s mother. “She’s been a Hawkeye fan for a long time, and I think she will love it.”


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