May 2, 2014 Updated: May 2, 2014 at 9:05 am
This is the twelfth of 20 profiles about The Gazette's Best and Brightest Class of 2014.
Whitney Whitehill lost the vision in her right eye, but she didn't lose the ability to see the value of a good attitude, hard work and the support from those around her.
In 2011, Whitehill underwent surgery to remove excess bone growth near the optic nerve. A biopsy revealed neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that usually affects infants. She had numerous tumors in her skull and stomach, which required six weeks of daily radiation and chemotherapy
Keeping up with her schoolwork and maintaining a positive attitude were her priorities, Whitehill said.
"I realized that I didn't have the worse situation in the world," she explained. "I don't think my life is that much different than anyone else's."
Whitehill, who lettered in varsity soccer three years, said she has had only to make a few adjustments when on the field because of her vision. For the past five years she has volunteered at the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. In her Best and Brightest essay, she wrote, "I have spent the majority of my Sundays cleaning up poop, throwing tennis balls and being licked all over by dogs."
She also joins her father in regular neighborhood cleanups. For several years she has helped with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Whitehill wrote, "My various experiences with volunteering have only improved my vision of the world around me and opened my eyes to an array of different opportunities that help shape and improve my community."
As the senior editor of the Rampart High School yearbook, Whitehill is responsible for designing, compiling, organizing and editing the senior sections. Her yearbook experience has led her to major in journalism, although she's also considering majoring in hospitality - because, she said, "it sounds like fun."
Whitehall said she hopes to play intramural or club soccer at San Diego State University, and she would like to get involved in community service. She selected the southern California school because of its strong journalism and hospitality programs, but admitted that being near the ocean was also appealing.
"I've lived in Colorado since I was in kindergarten," she said. "I'm ready to branch out."