Mountainside volleyball team plays for paralyzed teammate - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mountainside volleyball team plays for paralyzed teammate

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Alli McKernan with her Mountainside volleyball teammates Friday, Alli McKernan with her Mountainside volleyball teammates Friday,
SPOKANE, Wash. -

"Brave, strong, great friend, awesome." That's how Melina Ama describes teammate, 13-year-old Alli McKernan.

Alli played volleyball for the Mountainside Middle School team and last year the team played in the Pacific Northwest Volleyball Qualifier Tournament. This year, the team was back at the tournament, with Alli on the sidelines.

On New Year's Day Alli went sledding with her friends but she hit a tree and was seriously injured. Immediately after the accident, Alli was unable to move from the neck down and, after more than two months of recuperating, she has regained mobility in her upper body.

"She's improving a lot," says her uncle, Nick Widner. "It's a slow process, but she's a strong girl."

Alli's team, her school and the entire volleyball community have been incredibly supportive, holding fundraisers, wearing "Alli Strong" gear and writing inspirational messages. "Fight through it, get better, love you. Any kind of support. That almost means more than anything," says Widner.

On Friday, Alli showed up to support her team as she sat court side for their matches at PNQ. "She's happy to see everybody and all of us are really excited to see her," says teammate Tia Allen. Alli also may have been the team's good luck charm, after she arrived the team started winning.

"We lost our first two today," says Head Coach Annie Arnzen. "I gave them a little pep talk."

"Our coach tells us all the time that we need to play for her," says Allen.

"We felt more motivated to do better for her because she can't right now," says teammate Taylor Ricard, who remains optimistic. "You guys are going to see her on the court."

"If anyone in our family can do it, it's going to be Alli," says Widner.

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