Clemson cheerleader flips, tumbles despite blindness - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Clemson cheerleader flips, tumbles despite blindness

Posted: Updated:
Erica Powell cheers during the Clemson men's basketball team game against NC State on Tuesday. (Feb. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina) Erica Powell cheers during the Clemson men's basketball team game against NC State on Tuesday. (Feb. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina)
Erica Powell cheers during the Clemson men's basketball team game against NC State on Tuesday. (Feb. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina) Erica Powell cheers during the Clemson men's basketball team game against NC State on Tuesday. (Feb. 18, 2014/FOX Carolina)
Erica (left) with a friend on campus after classes. (Feb. 19, 2014/FOX Carolina) Erica (left) with a friend on campus after classes. (Feb. 19, 2014/FOX Carolina)
  • Heartland NewsMore>>

  • Water woes in Thebes

    Water woes in Thebes

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:59 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:59:33 GMT
    A water main break kept folks in Thebes from doing dishes, taking showers for over 24 hours and they were never told exactly when it was going to be turned back on.It started with a warning from the city.
    A water main break kept folks in Thebes from doing dishes, taking showers for over 24 hours and they were never told exactly when it was going to be turned back on.It started with a warning from the city.
  • Boil water order issued in Murphysboro

    Boil water order issued in Murphysboro

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:37:19 GMT
    A boil water order has been issued for the 1900 block of Walnut in Murphysboro. This does not include Jack's Meat Market.
    A boil water order has been issued for the 1900 block of Walnut in Murphysboro. This does not include Jack's Meat Market.
  • I-Team: Would expanding Medicaid help the thousands in MO living without insurance

    I-Team: Would expanding Medicaid help the thousands in Mo. living without insurance?

    I-Team: Would expanding Medicaid help the thousands in Mo. living without insurance?

    Thursday, April 24 2014 7:36 PM EDT2014-04-24 23:36:12 GMT
    About half of the states have made the decision to expand Medicaid. Missouri lawmakers are currently debating the matter in Jefferson City. How will what legislators decide impact the state, and those currently living without health insurance?
    About half of the states have made the decision to expand Medicaid. Missouri lawmakers are currently debating the matter in Jefferson City. How will what legislators decide impact the state, and those currently living without health insurance?
CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

She cheers and flips, but the stunts aren't the only challenges a Clemson University cheerleader faces every day.

Erica Powell is a T.L. Hanna High School graduate and junior at Clemson. She's thankful to be a cancer survivor, but treatments for the disease left her with vision problems that most people couldn't imagine living with.

Powell was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma at just six months old. After treatments and surgeries until she was six or seven, she found her vision was impacted by the radiation.

Today, she's legally blind.

She got her driver's license at 16, but had to turn it over at 18. Even now, she goes to her doctors in Atlanta for eye injections each month.

Powell said she sees colors, light and shapes, but she said everything is always blurry. She can't make out details, which is frustrating.

"Especially the social aspect of it, like walking by someone that could be my mother or my best friend and not being able to recognize them," explained Powell.

Powell said she knows voices very well. But when she's flipping, throwing her teammates, and staying in step on the mats, she said it's a blur.

Her coach, Tori Palmer, said Powell is an inspiration for her teammates.

"She never asks for any special treatment. You wouldn't even know as a coach [that she was visually impaired]. She never complains; she works really hard," said Palmer.

Powell said she had grown up doing gymnastics and it wasn't until her senior year at T.L. Hanna that she started cheering. She's been on the varsity squad at Clemson for three years.

She acknowledged that she can't even see the games she's cheering for, that it's mostly a blur. She said she has to rely on her teammates' reactions to know when to cheer.

Because she's had cancer before, Powell explained that she's at a greater risk of getting it again, any kind. She said unfortunately, her condition is degenerative, so her vision will likely get worse, too.

But she doesn't let it get her down.

"I don't feel different compared to other people. I try not to see myself as any different than any other college student," Powell said.

Copyright 2014 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow

310 Broadway
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

FCC Public File
publicfile@kfvs12.com
573-335-1212
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and KFVS12. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.