WIMAUMA, Florida (FloridaToday.news) — When she was rocking and climbing her home jungle gym, if you knew Emma Pereira ten years ago, you wouldn’t picture her here.
“It started very gradually,” Emma said. “My skin started to open up in little patches and we went to several doctors and they told us it was just eczema.”
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For six years, her skin was scabbed and dyed red and purple.
“When her skin was at its worst, she looked like a third-degree burn victim,” said Patty Pereira, Emma’s mother.
The doctors had no idea, but her family knew that Emma was in for something more.
“All my life I’ve been told that I can’t go and do ninja because I can’t sweat,” Emma said. “It hurt me just to take a shower every night. I would scream.”
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She struggled with this pain from age three to nine until her family finally found a doctor and made a diagnosis.
In those years, they started watching American Ninja Warrior.
“We have been watching this show for many years, since she was seven years old,” said Patty. “This is our family show.”
Once her skin cleared up, the 16-year-old took up gymnastics and rock climbing, and then found ninja friends.
“She was just having fun,” Patty said. “I saw her having fun. And we didn’t see that at the time from her. Everything was a struggle.”
Eventually, Emma sent in an audition video for a show she’d been watching for almost a decade. After the show gave a positive response, she flew to Los Angeles in April to compete.
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“I remember when I got up to the launch platform, I thought, ‘Wait, is this real? It can’t be true,” Emma recalls. “It was like a dream to be there.”
Her mother felt the same way.
“She’s so pretty to look at,” Patty said. “She’s so confident and well-behaved.”
While Emma can’t yet tell how the show went, there’s still a lot more ninja left in her.
“They’ve seen me dream about this all my life and now I’m really here,” Emma said. “This is madness.”
You can watch Emma compete in American Ninja Warrior on News Channel 8 on Monday, July 24th at 8pm.
She is also looking for sponsors to pay for clothing, travel and other expenses. You can contact Patty at [email protected] to find out more.