SALT LAKE CITY -- A little girl returns to the rink for her first ice skating competition since being diagnosed with a brain tumor and undergoing multiple surgeries.
Aspen Gardner, 10, was initially told by her doctors she only had months to live, a second opinion and two brain surgeries later, she isn’t just surviving: She’s inspiring others as she returns to the ice rink and sport she loves.
“She is a determined little girl,” said Aspen’s mother Michelle Gardner.
Aspen has seen her share of obstacles, but she chose to skate right over them.
“Skating, you just go out there and have fun,” Aspen said.
About 9 months ago, the 10 year old had a brain tumor the size of an orange removed.
“Her whole left side didn’t have any movement,” Michelle Gardner said. “She’s deaf in the left ear now, so they were worried about her equilibrium on the ice.”
You might remember her story from a few months back. Right after the surgery, Aspen was in a wheel chair and returned to the ice, but couldn't lace up her skates.
“When I didn’t get to skate I was really bummed that I didn’t, and I had to watch all the skaters compete in the competition,” Aspen said.
Six weeks after her surgery, her doctor was dumbfounded by her recovery and balance. He cleared her to return to ice skating, after he had initially said she’d be away from the sport for a year.
“Played this game on the Wii, “Just Dance,” then went to the doctor, and he said I could skate so that day I went skating and did all my jumps,” Aspen said.
“She had the best attitude; she hardly ever complained,” Michelle Gardner said. “We had that attitude: We’re going to do this.”
Friday, Aspen returned to the competitive side of skating. Her doctors call her a miracle, family and friends an inspiration.
“She amazes us every day,” Michelle Gardner said. “Especially when you're told you have little time and to see this 9 months later, it’s pretty incredible.”