Little Grace Hegh from Okaihau is a world-class cheerleader, but a fundraiser to get her to the All Star Games in Las Vegas nearly ended in tragedy when she took the biggest tumble of her life.
The 11-year old was rushed to Whangarei Hospital with a head injury, skin stripped off, cuts and bruises after the air-track mat she was tumbling on was picked up by a strong gust of wind on Saturday during a display at the old Mitsubishi car yard site in Whangarei.
Grace lay on the ground, unconscious, unmoving, with her eyes open, after being slammed into the wall and then catapulted about 10 metres before crashing onto the asphalt.
Her mother, Andrea Hegh, told the Advocate she thought Grace was dead when she reached her side within seconds.
The wind had lifted one side of the rectangular air-track with Grace on it, slamming it between a nearby wall and a pole, and hurling the girl out like a slingshot.
"She bounced off, went flying at least three metres in the air and was thrown clean over the top of my car," Ms Hegh said.
Grace was unconscious and motionless for about a minute before she started to make "a gurgling sound", her mother said.
Drifting in and out of consciousness, Grace woke in the ambulance on its way to hospital and asked if "everyone was all right".
"That's just typical of our girl," Ms Hegh said. "She's the kind of kid who draws others to her because she's caring and warm. At the hospital she was apologising to the nurses and other staff for causing such a drama when they were already busy."
The "drama" left the charismatic young entertainer with an egg-sized lump on her head, a black eye, stitches, abrasions and extensive bruising, but miraculously no broken bones. It will take time for her abraded skin to heal and, in the aftermath of the head injury, there will be no bouncing for a while.
Saturday's fundraiser - which included a garage sale, barbecue, cake stall, cheerleading and hip-hop dance displays - was being wound up at about 2.30pm because of the increasing wind when the accident happened.
The up-and-coming cheerleader needs to raise $10,000 get to the All Stars event in the USA in April, after being scouted by top American choreographer Luke Johnson.
A fundraising auction has been postponed until Grace is well enough to resume her cheerleading passion, Ms Hegh said.
"We're not even thinking about that right now. We've got our beautiful daughter, she's alive and she's doing miraculously well. She really is our 'Amazing Grace'."
For more articles from this region, go to NORTHERN ADVOCATE