Aubrielle Champagne, of Tok, Alaska, is the daughter of Karla and Shawn Champagne, and the granddaughter of Ted Charles and Darlene Summar, and Ray and Linda Champagne.
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The Doyon Foundation scholarship recipient has been playing hockey since she was 5 years old. Then, during her freshman year of high school, everything changed. Aubrielle was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal. She underwent five brain surgeries, contracted meningitis – and almost died. When she recovered, her doctors told her she should never play hockey again.
Instead, Aubrielle worked hard toward gaining full mobility and getting back on the ice. She exceeded expectations and today is a goalie on the hockey team at the University of Wisconsin Superior (UWS), where she is working toward her bachelor’s degree in biology.
“I am working hard to fight the pain Chiari has brought me and I continue to get mentally and physically stronger. If it wasn’t for God’s miracles, I wouldn’t be alive today and I am thankful. Even though the pain never ends, I fight for the game I love,” she says, adding that giving up has never been an option, and that when she can no longer play she will coach. “Hockey has opened my mind to new possibilities and I am forever grateful.”
While school and hockey are central in Aubrielle’s life, she also finds time for other activities. In the summer, she volunteers for Hockey Ministries International to help coach their youth hockey players in Alaska. This past summer she was also a biology volunteer at Tetlin Wildlife Refuge. She also enjoys photography.
After everything she has experienced and overcome, Aubrielle says she has much to be grateful for, including Doyon Foundation’s support. “Doyon Foundation helped me achieve my dreams as a student athlete. Without Doyon Foundation, I wouldn’t be here,” she says. “I also would like to thank anyone who has helped me throughout the years, and my friends and family for showing me love and compassion and teaching me to never lose hope.”
Speaking from experience, Aubrielle now encourages others to have hope. “Believe in yourself and no matter what, don’t give up on your dreams,” she says.