Athlete. Believer. Warrior.
Maya Oberstein was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2012 when she was 9-years-old. A devoted and accomplished gymnast even then, she learned of her cancer as she was competing to qualify for the state championship meet. Instead of that meet, she began treatment, ultimately undergoing the unconventional rotationplasty surgery that would give her more mobility to continue to pursue the sport she loves.
Maya dreamed of competing at the Olympics. We met her in March 2014 when she came to see Shannon Miller, one of the most decorated U.S. gymnasts, a cancer survivor herself and one of Maya’s idols. Shannon was with us as part of the Mission Speaker Series.
When Maya arrived, she was very shy. She barely looked up. By the time she left, she was showing us her back walkover with Shannon looking on, applauding, gold medals in hand. What a thing to be able to give a kid who had been through all this girl had. She could teach us all a thing or two about fighting back and finding a path forward no matter what may hit our lives.
Maya is now 15 years old and an honor student at her high school. She continues to compete in gymnastics, her sights set on the Paralympics, driven by her personal mantra: “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything” …and a desire to support other children who are still struggling with cancer …to encourage them not to give up on their dreams.
Note: Maya is a former honorary co-chair and four-year participant in Mission’s annual marquee fundraising event, the CT Challenge Bike Ride. She was inspired to learn to ride a bike with her prosthetic after visiting Mission.