HONOLULU (KHON2) — She was born with a disease that nearly kept her from walking.
Now she entertains large crowds at University of Hawaii sporting events with her energy, and her baton
You may not know her by name, or perhaps you’ve never seen her up close.
She’s the new twirler for the University of Hawaii Rainbow warrior marching band.
“It’s very cool,” said UH Twirler Callyn Marvell. “I was super excited when I found out I got the spot for the position. Because I am from Texas, so leaving my friends and family back home is very hard but it was very worth it in the end.”
Callyn, has been twirling from a young age. This past summer she earned herself a scholarship to be not just the featured twirler here but the only twirler here.
“There’s just one yes,” said UH band director Adam Kehl. “So it’s exciting to have sombody so capable of captivting an audieince. It’s a skill, and a challenge for one person to do that alone of a football field.”
You might say she has the perfect last name in Marvell. Because in a sense, she truly is. in her case a medical marvel.
“So when I was three months old at that age most kids are crawling and I wasn’t,”
Marvell explained. “So my mom thought that’s not normal. So she took me to my pediatrician. They did some tests and then I had to get a spinal surgery.”
She needed the spine surgery because she was diagnosed with spina bifida.
Her spinal cord was sticking out of her back.
“So I had to do reconstructive surgery,” she shared. “I had a fat tumor in my back. So they cut away a lot of the tumor. But it still in my back because it ruined my spinal cord. So they repaired my spinal cord putting it back in place.”
There were other surgeries and additional concerns including nerve damage and numbness.
These are issues that leave some spina bifida patients paralyzed, and confined to a wheelchair for life.
But remember, Callyn’s last name is Marvell.
“I had to relearn how to walk,” she said. “We learn how to do really everything. So a lot of people take for granted walking. So when I was able to walk again that was really great. I was playing soccer. I was on the swim team, and I started twirling when I was seven. I won my first national competition two years ago which was amazing with a partner in Texas. That was super exciting. We won state and regionals before nationals.”
When it came to earning her scholarship to UH, it was no case of sympathy being shown.
In fact Kehl, and and the other band members weren’t even aware of her medical conditions when they started the interviewing process.
Callyn admits she still has some minor issues associated with the nerve damage.
Put a baton or maybe two or three in her hands, and something magical happens.
“Has twirling kind of saved your life?” KHON2 asked.
“Yes,” she said. “My nurse even said that’s the best thing for me because I stretch every day. I’m very active being active, and keeping my weight maintained. Stretching helps my back with the muscles keeps me loose, and he’s very happy with what I’ve been doing.”