Members of the Brainerd and Howard High School band rallied together to honor Rickeeta Rowland, a Brainerd and band alumna, to help raise money for her medical expenses.
Band director, Tracey Frazier knows Saturday's Battle of Bands Fundraiser will help Rowland, but the impact goes further.
"We wanted to recognize her and all she and her mother have done for the band," Frazier said. "Seeing Rickeeta I think will give [people] an appreciation for life and for health, and for perseverance in whatever situation we deal with."
Rowland suffers from Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), which occurs when abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain tangle. It's left her paralyzed on the left side of her body and unable to have anymore kids.
"It feels great for the simple fact that somebody acknowledges me," Rowland said.
At the age of 20, she suffered a mild stroke, which led to the discovery of a blood clot in her brain. After brief treatment, doctors believed the blood clot was gone, and would no longer be a problem because she was not expecting a child.
Five years later Rickeeta learned the blood clot was still there; shrinking and hiding in her blood vessels. Doctors told her she needed brain surgery.
"When I finally did get pregnant at the age of 25, the blood vessel that shrunk in my head made a hemorrhage because the pregnancy, the pressure of throwing up and all that."
Rowland was 4 1/2 months pregnant, and had a choice to make.
"I told them to take the baby and then my mom ended up getting my friend on the phone and talked to me and I went ahead and agreed to the surgery and the medicine ended up saving both of us," Rowland said.
Eight brain surgeries and two leg surgeries later, Rowland has a healthy, two year old son, Kaden. She's beating the odds of never talking, or walking again, all while balancing motherhood.
"It's hard and then being a parent at the same time it's even harder, but it makes me go harder for the simple fact that I finally did get to have a child and so that's my blessing in disguise," Rowland said. "He knows what's going on and after all we've been through at the hospital we're both growing together. Like I'm starting over and I'm catching up with him at the same time."
A tough journey Rowland strives to finish, with the help of loved ones and the panthers family.
"Don't take life for granted and even if something does happen keep pushing forward, cause you still have to live life and I have to live it for my son," Rowland said.
Rowland and her family plan to use the donations to buy a motorized wheelchair and vehicle to help her get around. They are also hoping to gain support on Rowland's GofundMe page.