Denton Ryan High School's mascot has been quietly battling a heart condition for years and on Friday she recieved the best news of her life with a trip to Disneyland.
Breana Bladel is well known at Denton Ryan High School as the school's mascot, "Ryan the Raider."
"I became the mascot my sophomore year,” said the 17-year-old still hyped up after a Friday morning pep rally. "It's tiring and hot some days, but I love it."
She attends most school events to help the cheer team and honor guards hype the crowd up. She says that’s exactly the role she wants to be known for, not the private health condition she’s dealt with her whole life.
"I was born with a heart disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart, which means I’m missing the left ventricle of my heart," said Breana Bladel.
Her parents say the syndrome has kept her in and out of hospitals her whole life.
"Lots of hospital stays, lots of cardiac caths,” said her mom Tena Bladel. “Three open heart surgeries and one lung surgery."
In 2009, the family said things took a turn for the worse when the teenager's body was no longer able to hold onto protein. She was forced onto home healthcare and three times a week, four-hour infusion sessions to keep her system working.
"It's just not working anymore, and her cardiologist said it's time to refer her to a transplant team," said Tena Bladel.
Breana Bladel now needs a heart transplant to survive. She’s on the donor list awaiting her turn.
"It's been rough,” said her little sister Bailey Bladel. "She's been through so much and she just tries to, she wants to be as normal as everyone else."
The Make-a-Wish Foundation and friends decided to make the teen's potentially last pep rally of the year a memorable one.
After performances by the band, cheerleaders, and dance team Breana was invited to center court of the Ryan gymnasium and presented with her wish, a trip to Disneyland for her and her family.
“I haven’t been since I was like two,” she said, “I’m so excited. I want to go now; can we just leave school?”
Breana Baldel will visit the theme park after a well-deserved break before continuing her fight for a new heart, but she says she’s ready for that fight.
"Just keep fighting and keep going through your day,” she said. “It will get better, eventually it will get better, and don't let your life revolve around it cause then you're going to miss out on everything."
The teen's friends say she maintains an upbeat attitude that is unmatched and since taking on the mascot roll she’s become an important asset to the high school's sports teams.
"You wouldn't even know she was sick unless she told you,” said friend and classmate Cody Lovell.
"That's just her, that's just Breana. She's just real positive, real caring, she's always about doing for others,” said David Baldel, the teen's father.
Breana Bladel said the teams, especially the cheerleaders, have made her feel like a part of the squad. She’s even participated in camp clinics with them and kept up despite the illness.
"This high school and the cheer coach and the honor guard coaches...they give her something outside of heart disease, they give her something outside of being an ill child,” said Tena Bladel.
"I'm so proud of her; she's my inspiration,” said Bailey Bladel.