Overcoming obstacles is nothing new for 14-year-old Tehya Tatiana Foussat of 4S Ranch.

Since birth, she’s been climbing mountains: Three spinal cord surgeries; losing the feeling in her feet and calf muscles; and suffering the effects of a tethered spinal cord and spinal cavity abnormalities. And, yes, It’s been difficult on Tehya and her family.

You see, Tehya suffers from one of the worst forms of spina bifida, called lipomyelomeningocele — which involves her entire spinal cord and numerous nerves. Luckily, her lesions are below her heart and lungs, but her lower bodily functions are compromised by the affliction — and she has undergone numerous medical procedures since age four. She can no longer stand on her tiptoes, and removal of additional spinal vertebrae makes her very tired because she doesn’t have an entire spinal column to balance and support her weight. She battles pain and discomfort daily.

Tehya - Student StarWhich makes it all the more surprising that Tehya Foussat is now a ninth grade cheerleader at Del Norte High School.

Born in Hawaii, Tehya moved to 4S Ranch from Rancho Bernardo with her parents, Tony and Christine Foussat, in 2004 because of the area’s reputation for good schools, a close-knit community, and convenient shopping. And they felt it was the right environment for Tehya.

“Tehya is a lovely girl and her beauty radiates from within,” said her mother, Christine Foussat. “She has always been so thoughtful, selfless, and caring towards her family and friends, often putting their needs first before her own. She is a ‘Make A Wish’ recipient, but won’t ask for her wish because she feels there are other children who need their wishes granted more than she needs her’s.”

Tehya’s mother describes her as someone who never complains and is soft-spoken, yet determined and focused. “She is a positive and uplifting example to those who live with the challenges of disease and disability, that they can achieve anything they dream or desire,” said Christine Foussat. She is also an example to those of us who are able-bodied to use our gifts to better ourselves so we can make a difference in our communities.”

Despite the adversities, Christine Foussat feels the most difficult part of her daughter’s affliction is the lack of current and accurate medical information about her ailment — and advice for parents of patients of spina bifida. This led her to form Tehyathon Inc., an online resource where a patient and parent can access reliable, updated and thorough information on the disease.

Sweet natured, inquisitive and playful — with a cute sense of humor — Tehya Foussat attended Oak Valley Middle School, where her first priority, according to her mother, was school work and her grades. And Tehya’s teachers and administrators at Oak Valley were paramount in her healing process after surgery, her mother noted. When Tehya decided to run for Associated Student Body president, she won — along with receiving the President’s Education Award for outstanding academic excellence and the Heart of Oak Valley Award.

Tehya’s interest in cheerleading began when she was six years old and cheering for the Rancho Bernardo Pop Warner league. Despite some apprehensions on trying out for the Del Norte cheer squad, her parents eventually conceded to “let our baby bird fly.” While she does have limitations when cheering, her mother indicated that rarely stops her. And she works on exercises to perfect her jumps and handsprings.

It’s clear that Christine Foussat considers raising her daughter both an inspiration and a blessing. “Our family is strong because we know what is really important in life,” she said.