SUMMERVILLE, S.C. – Emaleigh Tuggle’s career in a Green Wave soccer uniform might be over, but the soon-to-be alumnus will never lose her love for the game.
“I breath, live… soccer,” said Tuggle.
The former Green Wave forward uses her passion to help her defeat kidney disease.
“I feel myself on the field. I’m not judged, I’m not sick” Tuggle told News 2. “I’m a great player, a teammate.”
Emaleigh entered the world with kidney failure. Doctors initially thought dialysis was the answer but Emaleigh’s mom, Patti, said her daughter’s kidneys improved through the power of prayer. Emaleigh has lived the majority of her life with only 40 percent function of her kidneys but it hasn’t slowed her down, especially when it comes to sports.
“I’m always concerned every time she gets out,” said Steve Tuggle, Emaleigh’s dad. “I cringe a little bit but that’s not going to stop me from letting her do what she wants to do.”
This past fall, Emaleigh joined the Summerville football team as a kicker.
“I thought she was joking at first but then it was like… I’ve always encouraged her to do what she wanted,” said Steve. “Go right ahead, she’s just as healthy as any of the boys are.”
But now Emaleigh’s health isn’t where it was during football season.
“It’s below the 20% function and that’s where they move from just a treatment plan, to the transplant team,” said Patti. “As much as you read and as much as you think you know, when we heard those words, it was a blow and it was hard.”
Emaleigh expects to have surgery in June, two months before she kicks off her college career at the University of South Carolina.
“I’m kind of excited to feel that energy that I’ve never felt,” Emaleigh told News 2. “I’m excited, not for the surgery part, but starting college out as a brand person.”
It’s Emaleigh Tuggle’s optimistic lease on life that keeps her family grounded.
“It’s been rough but it’s all coming to an end so it’s okay.”
If you’d like to help cover costs of Emaleigh’s surgery, visit the Go Fund me page set up in her name.