In only 8 years of life, Zoey Eborsole distinguished herself as a cheerleader, community activist and inspiration to many in the Coachella Valley.
"Zoey. Zoey was a guardian angel on earth.You know, she was little, she was special and she really did not let anything hold her back," said Zoey's coach, Josh Stevens.
Born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Zoey lived much of her life in a wheel-chair. "It became harder for her to do things such as sit up or hold her head up. It normally doesn't affect little girls," said Zoey's mom, Laura Mckissock.
Following a mother's intuition, Mckissock sold her family's home in the La Quinta Cove in order to spend more time together as a family. "We basically sold all our stuff, gave so much of it away, moved into our travel trailer and we've been traveling around going to different places to make her dreams come true. Just with love in our hearts and adventure at our feet. One thing that we couldn't do she wanted to see the Eiffel Tower that wasn't really possible so we took her to Las Vegas so she could see the mini Eiffel Tower," said Mckissock.
Zoey passed away in the middle of September. While the pain is still fresh, Zoey's loved ones are are ensuring her legacy lives on. Zoey cheered on the 'Action All-Star Cheer Rubies,' an inclusive cheer team for athletes of any age and ability.
"We see the athletes who struggle to find something they feel comfortable doing in this valley. Something that allows them to come out of their shell give them that self-confidence. I mean they have so many challenges in their life, that if we can just give them something that they can hold dear to their heart and something they can call theirs because there is just not enough things in the valley for them to do," said Stevens. Stevens, a physics teacher at Xavier College Prep, founded the team 8 years ago. He coaches the team at no cost for participation.
Although Action All-Star Cheer Rubies is a free program, costs for special needs transportation must be covered. Mckissock is raising funds with PowerKids in Zoey's honor, to ensure all athletes have the experience her daughter did. Donate here. For more information about joining the cheer team, call PowerKids Center at 760-346-4446.
Cheer also gave Zoey a platform to advocate for acceptance. "She was fun and courageous. Telling us things that we can do and not that we can't," said Sawyer Grace Vaughn, a fellow cheerleader. "She taught me to never stop believing in yourself," said Parker Stevens, Zoey's friend. "There was this one day where they brought Zoey in to speak about: 'it doesn't matter if you're in a wheel chair or not just be yourself'," said Waileia Mercado, a PowerKids athlete.
"Zoey made an impact in our community. Not just here within the walls of PowerKids center, not just on her Rubies special needs cheer team, but also she really had an impact on everyone who met her," said Alison Vaughn, PowerKids Center co-owner, the gym where Zoey's team practices.
The team is preparing for a season, without their base. "We're gonna dedicate this season knowing that now she's dancing up in heaven," said Stevens.
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