Former teammates rally behind NFL cheerleader after sudden stroke
(INDIANAPOLIS, In.) — As a professional cheerleader and dancer, Tessa David has been performing and training much of the past eight years, until her body suddenly stopped.
"Everything went dizzy on me," David recalled. "My arm, I couldn't feel it."
She'd suffered a stroke, at 28 years old, leaving her family, friends, and especially her former Colts Cheerleading teammates in shock.
"It was definitely hard to see her because it's one of those things you don't expect that someone your age and someone that you're so close to will experience something like that," said, Erin B., David's former teammate and current Colts cheerleader.
That December stroke left David paralyzed on her right side.
"Sixty percent of my brain was injured," David said. "I can't read, I can't do numbers, math has no meaning to me."
Months of therapy in Texas, California and in her hometown of Bloomington have shown great progress.
"We've shown her videos of her right after her stroke to just show her you used to be able to, you couldn't move, you couldn't stand and now look at what you're doing," Bell said. "She suffered a very severe stroke, so it's almost a miracle."
"I can't see it," David admitted. "Everybody says they can, I can't see it, I'm a fighter, I will be a fighter. I can't see it."
After a five-year stint with the Colts, Tessa moved to Dallas to audition for the Cowboys Cheerleaders and was featured on the team's reality show.
"We're really proud of Tessa," Colts COO Pete Ward, said. "She was a very popular member of our cheerleader squad and much beloved and a great ambassador for the team."
Colts Nation rallied in support upon hearing the news, following her Facebook page for updates.
Fans who never met her, but remembered her bubbly personality and bright smile, sent in donations.
"When something tragic happens like this you have to bond together as a family and just do what you can to try to make it better and to try and help out any way you can," Kristine A., David's former roommate and teammate, said.
David returned to Indy to reunite with her teammates, providing much needed support and encouragement.
"If anybody can overcome this, it's Tessa," Colts Cheerleader Lauren M., said. "I teared up just telling her how much of an inspiration she is."
Before David heads back to Texas to continue her therapy, she will take part in the Colts Cheerleaders' calendar release party July 24 at Latitude 360. The team is donating a portion of the proceeds from those calendar sales to support her recovery.
"All my friends make me feel better, too," David said. "I laugh with them and cry with them. I love the girls so much, I love them."
David is also now working to help spread awareness of how to identify when someone has suffered a stroke. The National Stroke Association provides information on the FAST method for warning signs.
To continue following Tessa's journey to recover, follow her Facebook page for the latest updates.