Lyssa Kukla’s Story

Defining ‘Baa-ravery’:

9-year-old cancer survivor returns to Midland County Fair competition after amputation

Cancer survivor Lyssa Kukla demonstrated courage and bravery when she returned to the Midland County Fair this past summer to competitively show her lamb a short 14 months after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcoma is the most common bone cancer in children. It often requires amputation – which was the case for Lyssa – who competed from her wheelchair after losing her right leg.

“Lyssa has never let anything stop her from doing something she loves to do,” said Lori Kukla, Lyssa’s mother. “Her cancer caused her to miss the fair once, but I knew it wasn’t going to keep her away for a second year.”

Overcoming Physical Challenges 140814_fair_173a w photo credit

Lyssa’s desire to compete served as a powerful motivator through recovery and rehab despite the physical disadvantages. 

“While recovering, Lyssa was stuck in bed working on as many 4-H projects as she could,” said Lori. “When she was able to gain some mobility, she took off and didn’t look back.”

Lyssa began preparing for the beginner showmanship class competition after doctors informed her that the cancer was in remission. Practice sessions were aided by her friends who also pushed Lyssa’s wheelchair during the competition.

“Lyssa couldn’t hide her smile despite the wheelchair, even when her lamb was acting stubborn,” said Lori.

Raising Money for Research

Lyssa’s lamb was sold in the fair’s livestock auction after the competition. The Kuklas donated the proceeds to support Dr. Matthew Steensma, assistant professor in the Van Andel Research Institute Center for Cancer and Cell Biology, and his research on osteosarcoma.

Thank you, Lyssa, for providing an inspiring story of hope and for supporting cancer research. 




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