ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) Rock Valley softball welcomed its newest member to the team this week, but she is not your normal recruit.
"She, blows my mind every day with how courageous she is."
At three years old, Emmalyn Freeze was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia, causing chronic headaches and discomfort. Now at age 11, Emmalyn has undergone 30 surgeries, is traveling coast-to-coast and seeing multiple neurosurgeons. But through it all, she stays positive.
"I don't know. I just have all my friends and everything," said Emmalyn. "They keep me strong. They give me support."
"She tries to face every day with a smile," said Emmalyn's mother, Stephanie. "When we're ready to go back into the OR, when she's going in for her blood patches, she puts a smile on her face and heads back there and is like "I'll see you when I wake up."
Before she faces her next surgery later this month, Emmalyn will be considered a college athlete. Thanks to the help of Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization designed to pair college teams with children battling chronicle illness, Freeze officially signed on with Rock Valley College.
"Hopefully we're talking when she's 20, 25, 30 that she's still following RVC softball, she's still staying in touch," said RVC softball head coach Darin Monroe. "Because that's the real value of college athletics. Not just the wins and the losses, but the impact that you can make on a community. It's the impact you can make on people."
The six-time national champions welcomed their newest teammate with open arms and Emmalyn could not be happier.
"I just love how they're just helping me doing my surgeries and that helps a lot to make me stronger."
"We are so blessed by this team to have our back. And for her to be a part of this, it just gives her so much to look forward to"
Chiari Malformaton is hereditary and for the time being, there is no cure for the condition. The Freeze family will head back to California for Emmalyn's ninth surgery in the state since July. If you would like to help, a GoFundMe page has been set up for Emmalyn, here.