Associated Student Body officer.
Medical crisis survivor.
Kyla Riddle is grateful for every day, and it shows in her enthusiastic embrace of myriad high school activities at Northwest Christian School.
As a toddler, she was diagnosed with MEN2A, a rare genetic disorder that affects the endocrine glands and causes a type of thyroid cancer. She had her first surgery around age 3 to remove her thyroid and has been on medication for control and screening ever since.
She’s had such positive results from her treatment that she volunteered to be part of a medical study, and travels to the National Institutes of Health in New York often, so they can track her progress. Riddle hopes by participating in this research, she’ll be able to help others.
Had her thyroid not been removed early enough, she knows the average life expectancy of people with this disorder is 21.
“The surgery allowed me to be cancer-free,” she said. “I’ve been able to run and do sports and live a normal life.”
For Riddle, normal equals busy. Playing varsity soccer and basketball is just a drop in the bucket.
Teacher Laura West said she’s amazed at the scope of her student’s activities.
“She has a voice in nearly every single group at school,” West said. “I could talk to any student and they would all say they are one of Kyla’s friends. She makes everyone feel heard.”
As an example, she described what Riddle did for her class speech when she ran for ASB.
“She wrote everyone’s name in Sharpie on her shoes – the whole school! It was symbolic, saying she’s here for everyone.”
Riddle said she has known many of her classmates since pre-K.
“I’ve enjoyed the community of the school,” she said.
And she’s been an integral part of it.
“She’s our Green Crew lead and spearheaded student body support of our basketball and football games,” West said. “She came up with a theme for each night.”
The student shrugged off the praise with a laugh.
“I enjoy planning everything and being a representative of our school,” she said. “I like to organize other people and things, but honestly, not my own!”
Travel feeds both her adventurous spirit and her desire to help others. She’s taken mission trips to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Students International through the school.
“I love seeing different cultures,” she said. “In Nicaragua, I sat in people’s homes and talked and engaged with them for hours. People just need to be heard.”
West said she will feel Riddle’s absence keenly next year.
“I will miss having that student to turn to that I know everyone will follow.”
Riddle will attend Grand Canyon University in Arizona this fall and is considering a psychology major with the goal of perhaps one day opening her own practice as a therapist.
“I’m excited to step into this new world and the whole adventure,” she said. “Every day I get to wake up and know that God gave me another day. I don’t take it for granted.”