WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — Feisty, determined, aggressive. All words used to describe 12-year-old Peyton Wheatley.
"From day one I knew she was special. She gives 100%. She's an attacking player," explains Luis Viera, Peyton's coach.
Coach Luis Viera didn't expect to see Peyton back at practice so soon. But he also knows it's hard to keep this 12-year-old off the field.
Peyton says soccer is, "like a life, like a second life," to her.
The love of this game is likely what saved Peyton's life a month ago.
"It was just like so much pain in my neck and my whole entire right side of my face."
Peyton was rushed to a hospital.
"What was she diagnosed with? An AVM? I can't pronounce it. But it's an AVM. And it's basically something that you're born with. It just is. Something in your brain don't fuse right together. And it's like a ticking time bomb," says her dad Jeremy Wheatley.
AVM stands for Arteriovenous Malformation. It's an abnormal connection between arteries and veins, usually in the brain or spine.
In 2019 Northeast High football player Jacquez Welch, 18, died from an AVM.
"We've spoke to the nurse after the fact. And she was like, you know, dispatch had called and told us, a stroke victim was coming in," Lauren Wheatley, Peyton's mom said. "And then dad comes rushing in with a little girl in his arms and she goes, we put two and two together, like, oh, my goodness, this is our stroke patient. Like they weren't expecting a 12-year-old, they were expecting an older person, you know."
Peyton had emergency brain surgery. She's spent the last month in rehab learning how to walk again and do simple things, like hold a toothbrush and brush her own teeth.
It's hard to believe this is Peyton, one month after brain surgery. She gets the same reaction every time she shares her incredible journey.
"They're like, Oh my goodness. You're like a walking miracle."
And as soon as her doctors will allow it, she'll start running, kicking, and scoring again. Peyton says her faith and soccer saved her life.
Peyton said she thought about one thing while she was in the hospital and rehab.
"Got to just get back on the soccer field," says Peyton.
Her family has started a GoFundMe to help with hospital bills.