Kiera Hoover - Ohio Interview by Claire Plath Nomination by Katherine Boushie Photography by Studio 187 Issue 34 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination:Kiera Hoover exemplifies the meaning of the word ‘inspiring’ for so many reasons. Kiera has faced numerous difficult challenges growing up, the latest being her diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which affects her connective tissue in joints, causing her nearly daily pain. Despite her challenges, Kiera has been active in school activities as well as in service to others. She was captain of Varsity cheer and a member of Link Crew both leadership roles. As Pure International Miss Teen Midwest Ohio, she has set an example by actively doing for others. She has been a coach for Special Olympics and participated in Relay for Life and Down Syndrome Buddy Walk, providing food for those in need and more! She aspires to be an ASL interpreter. Everything she does is with joy on her face and love in her heart!
Photography by Studio 187
What is Ehlers Danlos-Syndrome, and how have you overcome all the challenges it comes with growing up? Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a disease that weakens the connective tissue primarily in your joints, skin and blood vessel walls. I have struggled with pain and loose joints for the last few years. I went to years of doctor appointments and physical therapy, but things were just getting worse. During my senior year of cheerleading I went to do a back handspring and dislocated my elbow. After more testing I was diagnosed with EDS. I was able to finish my senior year cheering, but with a lot of restrictions. Every day I have some degree of pain, aches or some joint sliding out of place, but I try to put a smile on my face and enjoy each day and adventure as best as I can.
How are you active in your school and your community? I started being active in cheer, theater, volunteering and being a part of Link Crew because being a part of something allows you to feel accepted. When I was younger, I always felt I was alone or didn’t really fit in. It was a feeling that I didn’t want others to experience. Cheerleading and theater gave me the confidence I needed and how to be part of a team. Link Crew is a mentor program that helps our incoming Freshman. I remember when I first started at Lincoln, I was so overwhelmed and nervous in such a big school. I wanted to make sure that others felt like they had someone to come to and help them. Volunteering is not just rewarding for others, but also for myself.
What do you love most about being captain for your Varsity Cheer team and what responsibilities does it come with? I loved being captain for the GLHS Varsity Cheer team because I was able to help lead and groom others like previous captains did to me. I have always wanted to be a captain since my freshman year of high school. As a captain it is our responsibility to help our coach with cheers, chants, schools banners and signs, support our local community, other sports, schools and anything that needs someone to cheer them on.
Photography by Studio 187
Tell me about the times you’ve had with being a coach for Special Olympics and participating in Relay for Life and the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk. I started helping with the Special Olympics, Relay for Life and the Down Syndrome Buddy Walk because my stepmom, Julie, is a cancer survivor and a special needs educational aide. She always brought me in the classroom and showed me the importance of inclusion. It’s learning that people don’t have disabilities but a different ability. They have coached me just as much as I have coached them.
How have your parents become a big inspiration in your life, and in what ways have they impacted who you are? My parents have provided me with a humble foundation with which to build a faith based future upon. This foundation consists of clear expectations and opportunities to learn from small mistakes. By leveraging faith based values they have encouraged community involvement and are by my side, leading through example.
What advice would you give to other teens who have gone through something similar that you have, or advice on how to stay active in their communities? I would recommend that people volunteer often, to humble themselves and to become more selfless. You can do something as simple as donating an hour a month going to the library to read to those who can't, help people grocery shop, or take out people's trash, all of which are non-financial things that most people can spare time for.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished, and how did you do it? The hardest thing I have accomplished was tumbling. At the time I wasn’t diagnosed with EDS and I was in constant joint pain and my joints would give out. I knew I had to successfully tumble to become a part of the varsity cheer squad. I spent countless hours at physical therapy, private lessons and extra practices until I was successfully able to tumble. My very first time I did was at my cheer tryouts at the end of my sophomore year and since I didn't give up, I made the varsity squad my junior year.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Even when things seem like they are impossible or you are alone, keep your head up and keep pressing on. There is always some opportunity in the middle of difficulty and you are much stronger than you think you are.
Photography by Studio 187
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? I will be attending Columbus State and Otterbein University in the fall to pursue American Sign Language Interpreting. I hope to see myself working for an airline as a bilingual flight attendant so I can travel the world and share my passion for ASL.
What is your favorite activity or pastime that wasn’t in your nomination? My favorite pastime was when I received my title as 2020 PURE International Pageants Miss Teen Midwest Ohio. I will be going to Nationals this September in Columbus, Ohio.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? My hidden talent is singing. I just started sharing this with my family and friends over the last couple of months. I love singing and I am glad I am finally getting the confidence to share it with others.
If you could publicly present any topic to a group of your peers, what would it be and why? I would share the topic of inclusion. Inclusion in society today is such an uncomfortable topic, but it is so important to me and other teens. Everyone longs to be included.
3 Things on your bucket list Skydiving Travel to Italy Foster Animals
Who do you find inspiring? My parents.
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? I think I am inspiring because I keep pressing on to help others feel special or included even when I have been left out or feeling like I wasn’t important. I want to keep being a better version of myself and hope that I can help others do the same.
Kiera will be featured in issue 34 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!