GREAT FALLS — Last fall, now Great Falls High junior Emma Pachek was sidelined for her sophomore soccer season. Fighting for her life, Pachek had collapsed after a club soccer game in June. Fast forward to now, she’s back on the pitch with her team eager to get back to normal.
Diagnosed with the rare blood disorder aplastic anemia, Pachek spent much of last fall recovering, watching her team from the sidelines.
“She wanted it immediately to where she is now back out on the soccer field,” Emma’s mother, Julie Pachek, said. “So the fact that it took the nine months, she just had to buckle down and work hard.”
Part of what got Emma through the missed time in the sport she loves was the support from her friends and family.
“It felt very good knowing that I had a lot of support behind my back, knowing that I wasn't alone in this process,” Emma explained.
For Pachek and her family, life is now different. Her routine consists of many more naps and a daily medications multiple times a day in order to keep her active and upright.
“The amount of work that she puts in and what she has to do to just be normal … all of us in the family the stuff that happens at home and all the medications she's on and the after effects of what she does in public, we’re all just so proud of her,” Julie said.
Juggling school and soccer practice for someone with Emma’s condition means a change in lifestyle. On a given day, Emma is putting down water all day long, taking different medications multiple times a day, fitting in a nap after school to have enough energy for soccer practice all so she can play.
The important thing though despite it all is she’s back on the field with twin sister Isabella and she’s even back to her old ways contributing when this last weekend she scored the lone goal against Billings Senior which for Emma was just another goal.
“It felt good, but it really felt like any other goal that I've had,” Emma admitted. “It just felt like a regular game to me.”
But for the family, it was a moment that culminated all the work, time and emotion that went into getting her back.
“I'm not going to lie, I was pretty emotional just to see her start the game,” Julie said as she smiled. “ It was great to see her out there.”
Last fall, it was the Emma Strong campaign that encouraged others to become bone marrow and blood stem cell donors as well as provide scholarships to local Great Falls kids to give them the chance to have the resources to play sports. This year, a healthy back-to normal Emma that further shows what a donation can do.
“It's the amount of people that stepped up and called and supported,” Julie said. “It's amazing. It makes you feel you know who your people are.”