FORT THOMAS, Ky. (WLWT) – A 13-year-old Northern Kentucky cheerleader died suddenly as a result of a strep infection, a coroner confirmed Friday.
Lilliana Schalck, a Highlands Middle School student, died suddenly in February while participating with private cheerleading team Premiere Athletics at a competition in Columbus.
She fell ill during the competition, and was taken to a nearby hospital. That’s where her condition quickly deteriorated.
A newly released coroner’s report said the 13-year-old died of a disseminated bacterial infection as a result of Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus.
“Apparently, an underlying Strep infection overwhelmed her immune system with little or no warning, and catastrophic results,” a statement from Schalck family said. “We knew this report was coming and honestly have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it changes nothing for us. But, on the other hand, we wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone and maybe this report might help prevent a similar outcome for someone else. Lilliana would surely help if she could, and this is just an extension of that spirit.”
Lilliana Schalck made history with Highlands athletics, the first of two eighth-graders to make the varsity cheerleading team this year. She also cheered on two teams at the competitive cheerleading gym Premiere Athletics.
“I wanted to support her, so we’d have something to talk about,” her father, Dan Schalck, said. “You know, it’s kind of quiet driving five hours from an event if there’s nothing to talk about.”
Her father was a proud cheer dad and certainly had a lot to be proud of.
“She found her natural calling and took off with it,” he said. “She put in the work. She put in the hours. We’ve been in the gym 20 hours a week for I don’t know how long.”
Dan Schalck said he did not notice any warning signs or anything out of the norm for his daughter. She was healthy and in top shape. She had been complaining of a nagging hamstring injury. She also caught a little cold last week, but her father thought she had fought it off.
Then, minutes before she was set to perform, her coach found Dan Schalck and told him his daughter was not acting like herself.
Now, as her teammates end their season, her friends are honoring her life.
After the teen’s death, a scholarship fund was created in her name. A new award will go to an athlete who exemplifies Schalck’s values.