Eight-year old Hundred resident Krista Mae Peraldo recently became a member of the West Virginia University gymnastics team, according to an article published on WVUsports.com by Shannon McNamara.
The article reported on Nov. 19, the very day WVU Gymnastics Coach Jason Butts announced the news, that Peraldo signed a letter of intent at Cary Gym to compete with the Mountaineers.
"Krista is so excited; she is absolutely ecstatic," reported Krista's mom, Stephanie Peraldo. "it's helping her to get back to that bouncy, vibrant little girl," Stephanie added, referencing Krista's recent battle with leukemia.
Pictured is Krista Mae Peraldo, surrounded by fellow members of the WVU Gymnastics Team. (Photo by Dale Sparks of All-Pro Photography for the WVU Sports Communication Office)
"We are excited to officially sign Krista Mae today and to welcome her into the Mountaineer family," stated Butts to WVUSports. "Krista Mae brightens Cary Gym every time she comes in for practice, and her smiles and enthusiasm are infectious. We're happy that she and her family will be with us for our journey through the 2014, and we hope they know that we will always be here for them."
Krista Mae was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on March 31. She has travelled to Morgantown several times over the last few months to receive treatment at WVU Children's Hospital.
The Wetzel Chronicle covered Krista's story this past April when she was facing six months of very aggressive chemotherapy, including a spinal tap every Tuesday.
"She is improving a lot," Stephanie said with emphasis in an interview Friday with the Chronicle. "Her (white blood cell) counts came back up," she added, explaining Krista had to recently have another blood transfusion because her counts had dropped.
"We are down to the very end of the very intense chemo," she further explained. "In January we will be starting a once-a-month treatment at the hospital. She gets to cut clear back to going once a a month and that will happen for two full years."
Krista is now considered in remission. "Things are looking very bright for her," Stephanie said.
She further expressed her admiration for the kids at WVU Hospitals: "You walk in the infusion clinic, and seeing the strength of these children can put you in tears . . . These kids come in, in wheelchairs, and they have other problems on top of cancer . . . The strength of the child is absolutely heart-wrenching."
According to McNamara's report on wvusports.com, Krista and the Mountaineers were partnered through Team IMPACT, a Boston-based non-profit organization that has set out to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatened illnesses by partnering them with college athletic teams.
Team IMPACT's goal is for children to become official team members for the duration of their treatment and beyond. The organization extends from the Northeast into the Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest regions.
Krista, who has spent some time with the Mountaineers team over the summer, will join them at their home meets this season at the WVU Coliseum.
Stephanie stated of the team, "They are the most amazing group of young women I have ever encountered."
"They welcomed an absolute stranger, a nine-year-old little girl, into their fold. They have accepted her and tried to help her fight this," she said. "They came to the hospital to sit with her during treatments. They bring her activities and do them with her." Stephanie added that the gymnastics team teaches Krista to "fight hard . . . They teach her a good set of values."
Stephanie said she is proud of the gymnastics team and doesn't think her words of praise "completely cover it."
"Like I said, they are the most amazing group of young women I have ever been fortunate to meet."