What does it mean to be driven? To Demi Eadie, a junior at Newfane High School, it means never quitting on what she loves. As a multi-sport athlete participating in cross-country, swimming, track and after-school ballet, Demi is known as the teammate who always gives her all, even when faced with incredible obstacles.
During the 2014-15 swim season, Demi began experiencing hip pain. As the season went on, the pain got increasingly worse, affecting everything from her athletic performance to the way she laughed. When it began affecting how she was breathing, she knew it was time for action.
Demi was referred to Dr. Marc Fineberg at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, who then referred her hip specialist Dr. Brian McGrath. An MRI revealed that Demi’s pain was caused by bilateral hip labral tears, an extremely painful diagnosis for which double-surgery was the best treatment option.
Mary Eadie, Demi’s mother, was proud of her daughter’s positive attitude throughout the situation. “Once Demi talked to the doctor and knew he could fix her hips,” she said, “she understood that it was far better than so many people who face worse physical problems every day.”
Despite the diagnosis, Dr. McGrath cleared Demi to continue her everyday activities until the date of her first surgery. Demi took advantage, even running the morning before her big day. “I didn’t take it easy because I figured the doctor would fix everything when he was in there anyway,” she said.
After her first surgery was completed on her left hip in the spring of 2015, Demi began physical therapy the very next day. She was fully committed to not only recovering, but also adapting to her post-operative physical restraints. She even got creative when she needed to, for example learning how to tie her shoes behind her back because she couldn’t bend over for three months after surgery.
Demi’s second operation, completed in July 2015, was a bit more serious. Her right hip was not only torn, but also detached. Darren Eadie, Demi’s father, said that without the successful surgeries, “Demi would never be in athletics again.”
Following her second operation, Demi immediately began physical therapy with Scott Dinse, UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine’s Buffalo-based physical therapy director. Darren beamed with pride for his daughter throughout her therapy.
“The admiration you have as a parent for someone her age to have that kind of determination just can’t be measured,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that as a result of this situation, Demi will be able to do anything she sets her mind to in the future.”
Demi’s positive attitude played a big part in her recovery, and also became a great source of inspiration for her coaches and teammates. Mike Heitzenreiter, her cross-country and track coach, was always using her as an example for the other runners to look toward during her recovery.
“Whenever we had kids who wouldn’t want to run I’d point her out and say, ‘Look at what she’s going through just so she can get back out there,’” said Heitzenreiter. “She earned the nickname ‘Mama Demi’ because she is so concerned about the care of other runners. She would do anything to run again.”
And run again she did. Demi was cleared for the season-ending all-league race, and received a lot of support – even from some unlikely sources. “Even the other teams were cheering for me,” Demi said. “It’s really a supportive group of people who do cross-country.”
Demi is now a junior participating – and being named captain – in all three of her school sports. Jim Cavaretta, her swimming coach at Newfane, couldn’t say enough about her leadership. “Even with her injury and the pain,” he said, “she was still a team leader. In my 46 years of coaching I’ve only had a handful of kids like her. It was really a no-brainer to name her captain.”
After all the surgeries, recovery and entry back into competition, Demi only has one regret: not finding out what was wrong with her sooner. “My advice for other people is to listen to your body and take care of it,” she said. “I lost about two years of doing the things I loved because I didn’t listen. It’s not worth it to go through all the pain.”
As a result, UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is proud to name Demi Eadie as the 2016 Comeback Athlete of the Year. UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is the varsity sponsor for the 2016 Prep Talk Awards, honoring local high school athletes and coaches. Demi will be honored at the Prep Talk Awards on June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo Hotel and Conference Center.