On the Bright Side: Softball player working to repay Shriners Hospital in Portland
JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - As a freshman, 15-year-old Jenna Kister was named conference pitcher of the year and second team all-state.
But before high school, she struggled to stay on the field because of medical issues.
Three years ago, doctors discovered a pre-existing condition that caused her sternum to put pressure on her lungs.
"It just kind of affected my breathing so I couldn't really run long distances or stay active for long periods of time," Jenna said.
The only solution was surgery.
"The thought of not being able to play - I don't know what I would do with my life," she said.
Shriners Hospital in Portland covered the majority of her medical expenses, which was more than $40,000.
"It kind of has always been there," she said of her condition, "but after having it, it was a huge difference and I can't imagine how it was going back to before."
Jenna said the surgery helped her become a better softball player.
"Like being able to pitch a full inning game," she said.
The surgery hasn't slowed her down.
"She just works really hard to be the best she can be at softball," her mother Jody Kister said. "She just has this passion."
Next month, Jenna is hosting a softball clinic to help repay Shriners Hospital for getting her back on the mound.
The clinic is August 5 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Laureal Sports Complex in Junction City.
Proceeds will go back to the Shriners Hospital.