MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Gophers women's volleyball team is taking yet another step forward this season and one of the team's biggest fans has also elevated her game.
Cassidy Luze is a 16-year-old volleyball fan who lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but she has never let that get in the way of cheering on her team. On the night of the Gophers Big Ten opener against Michigan, she even decided to bring her mom.
"I went to Michigan State," said Darcy Luze, with a laugh. "So typically I won't do the fight song with her. Her Grandpa usually does it."
Cassidy started going to Gopher games with her grandpa when she was just a toddler.
"She would sit on his lap and she would try to stand up all the time and get really excited," Darcy said.
Standing has always been something Cassidy strived to do, but it was never something she could do on her own.
"When they get to set point and match point the whole crowd stands up and she's never been able to do that," Darcy said.
But this season, Cassidy is finally able to do exactly that. Her doctor with Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare wrote a letter to her health insurer that paved the way for her to get a sit-to-stand wheelchair to help her maintain bone density and strength.
Though the physical benefits were immediately apparent, the volleyball game helped Darcy see how the chair changed her daughter's life in a different way.
"Seeing her doing it is like the social part of it that makes it even more valuable," Darcy said.
The Gophers won their match, and this time Cassidy was standing for match point.
"Is this a dream come true?" Darcy asked Cassidy, who responded with a nod. "Awesome."