BY RICK WATSON
DORA – Alexa Waid of Sumiton has been cheering for most of her young life, as she was a cheerleader at Sumiton Middle School before heading to Dora High School.
She earned a spot on the Bulldog cheering squad and has been on the sidelines all four years at Dora. She’s now a senior and preparing for college.
“I’m a very outgoing person and I’m bubbly,” Waid said. “I can make friends with anybody.” These traits were helpful when she was 15-years-old and lost her mother to breast cancer.
Her mother died over Christmas break when she was in the 10th grade. Waid was nervous about going back to school at first, but everyone at Dora helped her find her new “normal.” The faculty and students made the time following her mother’s death as easy as they could, according to Waid.
Waid’s life changed dramatically when she lost her mom.
“My mom did everything for me and my dad,” she said. Even when her mother was ill, she went to all of Waid’s games and other activities. “My mom was a strong person,” she said.
Since her death, Waid and her father Randall became a team. Her aunts and uncles also stepped in to help fill the void. Sonya and David Waid live nearby and they have helped.
Some teenagers turn within after such a tragedy, but she picked herself up and moved forward. The day after her mom (Sandie) passed away, Waid attended a game to cheer.
She has participated in several activities during her time at Dora High. She entered the Miss Dora High Pageant each year and she’s a member of the Anchor Club, a community service organization.
Waid was also a member of the Key Club, which is another community service organization. One of the Key Club projects was working at the Mission of Hope in Dora. They also did food drives for the needy.
School has been good for Waid but she is ready to move on with her life. After high school, she plans to pursue a career in mammography. She wants to help people avoid going through what her mother endured. It’s a way she can make a difference, according to Waid.
She has mixed emotions about graduation. She’s ready to start the next phase of her life but she will miss cheering and all her friends. “Ms. (Katie) Carden always kept me going. She was like my second mom,” Waid said.
Carden is a 10th grade English teacher, the cheer coach, and a mentor to Waid. Carden is the one who encouraged Waid to attend Wallace State Community College and enter into the mammography program.
“She has gone through a lot in her life, but she has definitely persevered,” Carden said.
No matter what, she never lost her smile or kind heart, according to Carden. This trait will be invaluable when Waid begins working with women who are nervous about getting mammograms, according to Carden.
Waid’s goal is to work at St. Vincent’s Birmingham. They have equipment that is more sophisticated and can catch abnormal conditions sooner.
Where does she see herself in five years?
“Hopefully with a good job and a house of my own,” she said. She currently has a cat named Willie, but said when she gets a place of her own, "a dog would be nice, too.”
“To watch her lose her mom in such a tragic way while she was a student here at Dora has been difficult for all of us,” Dora High principal Paige Abner said. “We all grieved during that time and her cheerleader friends stepped up, but her spirit keeps us going too,” she said. “She is very resilient.”