Kuyhlia grew up in Batesville, Indiana. She started dancing at a studio in Greensburg when she was three years old. And while she loved to dance, she was also a jock.
Highlights from Kuyhlia's 2017 Colts Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar Shoot. (Ohio River Cabins - Derby, IN) www.ohiorivercabins.net
"I ran track, I played softball, I cheered, and I played basketball," she says.
But in middle school, she was forced to give much of that up.
"It was the sports physical for basketball that I found out that I had a heart condition. I was in eighth grade, so I think I was 13 or 14. They didn't think dance was an active sport," she says. "And so, I really just focused on cheer and dance."
And it was therapeutic in many ways.
"My favorite thing about dance is that you can express yourself in any way. So, it really helped with that. And then my high school years, I started teaching at the dance studio, so that kind of blew off some time that I would have been doing other sports. So, that helped a lot."
Just like the other sports she played, Kuyhlia wanted to take dance as far as she could. But she also had to have surgery for her Long QT syndrome. And the timing wasn't ideal.
"Surgery was on Monday and there was the (Colts Cheer) audition workshop on Sunday," she says. "They removed a band of nerves out of my heart. For the longest time, I couldn't lift my arm. I guess it must have been the adrenaline the first day I ever came here that I was just like, 'Ok. Alright, I can do this!' And then the next couple weeks, it was like, 'Maybe you shouldn't have done that.'"
But it did get her one step closer to her goal of becoming a Colts cheerleader.
"My first year, I made semifinals and I was like, 'Yeah. I'm going to try out again, of course.' Then last year, I tried out and made it past semifinals and made it for finals and unfortunately, did not make the team. I was interviewed by a news station right after I didn't make the team and they said, 'Will you be back next year?' And I said, 'Of course.' And then this year, I came back and the third time is a charm."
Today, she feels great. And she's found a way to help other people diagnosed with Long QT syndrome.
"I just got a call and I'm in a study with Yale now trying to prove that if you have Long QT syndrome, you can still be active."
As she wraps up her rookie season, Kuyhlia looks forward to helping other girls realize their dream of becoming a Colts cheerleader.
"The vets helped me out when I made the team, so I'm going to be sure to help other girls out because I know everyone is chasing a dream – just like I chased mine."
It was her heart that pushed her to dance.
And it was her heart that kept her coming back.
Now, it's her heart that keeps her giving back.