donate icon DONATE

Gabrielle's Story: A Worlds-Level Cheerleader Shares Her Scoliosis Journey

Gabrielle has always been active, and she didn't let scoliosis slow her down.

Gabrielle developed scoliosis when she was a child, but she did not let her diagnosis slow her down.

Growing up, Gabrielle was very active and participated in sports like soccer, basketball, dance, swimming and cheerleading. When she was in the fourth grade, she took up cheerleading full time and hasn’t looked back.

For many years, Gabrielle received treatment in her home state in North Carolina, which included bracing. She remembers not feeling any different from her peers, except when she was wearing her scoliosis brace. She often had to explain to friends and classmates why she was wearing a back brace, and used that opportunity to teach them about scoliosis, “Most of the kids were really understanding once I told them about what I was wearing,” she said.

As Gabrielle grew older and continued with competitive cheer at the Worlds level, she started to feel a lot of pain and discomfort in her back. Upon discussing with her care team at home, spinal fusion surgery was recommended as the next step to help her with the pain and discomfort. Her parents wanted to find a seasoned leader in scoliosis.

After some research and a recommendation from a family friend, she and her family traveled to Shriners Children’s Philadelphia to visit with Amer Samdani, M.D., chief of surgery, who is a neurosurgeon and well known in the scoliosis community.

The first time I met Dr. Samdani, he seemed really interested in learning more about me. I told him that I was a competitive cheerleader and wanted to cheer in college. Dr. Samdani asked to see videos of my tumbling so that he could share with me all that is possible.

Spinal fusion surgery is recommended to correct a curve or stop it from progressing. Gabrielle had her surgery in January 2024 and has made excellent progress in her recovery. She is now a few months post operation and does not experience any pain, and can do almost everything like she used to, including cheer.

“I'm getting used to the way my body feels after spinal fusion, but I have been so happy that I can do all of the things I love to do.”

Gabrielle is a sophomore in high school and plans to continue cheering through the rest of her academic career. She is also a Patient Ambassador for Shriners Children’s Philadelphia, and would like to utilize her scoliosis diagnosis as a platform to help others live a good, active life.

Meet Gabrielle

Gabrielle is a teen with scoliosis who has not let her condition stop her from living a full life.

Gabrielle on pier at sunset, smiling

Gabrielle at sunset while attending the Charlotte Allstars Teal Beach Camp

Gabrielle wearing cheer uniform at beach

Each year Gabrielle attends cheer competitions. This is her on the beach during the capitol cheer competition.

Gabrielle wearing red dress

Gabrielle at her sweet 16 party

Next Steps

Share Your Story

Our patients and families are at the heart of everything we do at Shriners Children's. We invite you to share how the team at Shriners Children's has helped your child.

Give to Shriners Children's

Through the generosity of donors like you, we've helped over one million children lead more fulfilling lives, regardless of their families' ability to pay.

Contact Us

Have a question or request? Need to make an appointment? We're here for you.