A mother-and-daughter story for Mother's Day
By Jessica Moore
Not many people know the reasoning behind the competition cheerleading squad at the Marshall County Cheer and Tumble in Lewisburg. The story is inspiring, uplifting, and heartbreaking at the same time.
Becky Diestelow moved to Marshall County from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. in 1999. She was involved with competition cheerleading her whole life.
Once her daughter began to show an interest in cheerleading, she knew this was something they could do together. With that, she became her daughter's cheerleading coach. Not long after, she became the youth cheerleading director in Marshall County, and held that position for seven years.
In 2008, Diestelow began working part time at Marshall County Cheer and Tumble. While there she and then-owner Dayla Swanson Collier put together the first introduction to competition cheerleading in Marshall County. The team was known as MCSG Elite. They participated in one competition and had a blast. It was the only year the squad was recognized by that name.
Shortly after she began working at the gym her daughter, Briana Nicole Diestelow, passed away. She was only 12 years old. Briana loved everything about cheerleading. It was a passion she shared with her mother, and something they loved doing together.
Becky continued to work at the gym after her daughter's passing, until one day "Dayla told me she was going to sell the gym, and that I should buy it," said Diestelow. She thought hard about it and was unsure at first. When her children were young, Diestelow had purchased life insurance policies on her children as part of an insurance package. This was something she thought she would never have to use. When she received the check after her daughter's passing, she felt guilty and angry for having that money. It could never replace her daughter, so she put the money into a savings account and didn't touch it. A few weeks went by after learning of the gym being for sale, and Collier sent her an invoice with the asking price.
"After looking at the invoice and looking into my savings, I realized I was within just a few hundred dollars of being able to pay cash for the gym. I knew then, it was meant for me," said Diestelow. "Cheerleading was something my daughter and I did together. It keeps me close to my child, and it honors her memory." She then went on to explain where she came up with the mascot and name for her BND Allstar Cheerleading team. BND are the initials of her daughter, Briana Nicole Diestelow. The butterfly, which is their symbol and mascot if you will, is significant for several reasons. The day of Briana's funeral was a dreary day in almost every way. It was rainy, windy, and cold, as well as one of the most difficult days of her mother's life. As she got out of the truck and stepped under the church awning, a butterfly swooped out of the sky and touched her nose. "It was like her saying, 'Mama, look up. It's going to be okay,'" she said.
The next time she felt the significance of a butterfly was while reading a story her daughter had written just two months before she passed in a journal entry at school. The assignment was to write about one of her favorite memories. "She wrote about a time when she was about 9 years old and this huge moth was stuck in our kitchen. It was flying around everywhere and we were all screaming and laughing trying to get it out of the house. No matter what we did, we couldn't get rid of that moth," she laughed.
After cleaning her son's room, she found one more thing that made butterflies stand out to her. Briana, about six months before she passed, had written her little brother a book about butterflies. She drew pictures and listed countless facts. Inside the cover she wrote, "To my brother Blake, from your sister Briana."
"I am a very strong in my faith. It is what has gotten me through this. I think about our earthly bodies and how they can't compare to our perfect heavenly bodies. When I think of Briana I think of her as the unique and beautiful moth while she was here on Earth, but now she is in her perfect, heavenly body, like the butterfly. So that is why we wear butterflies. The gym represents what she and I did as a mother and daughter, and she will get to live on through this," she said.
"This is what I love doing. It makes me happy, it keeps me close to her, and because of this I feel like I have tons of daughters," said Diestelow.
Last week those attending Marshall County Cheer and Tumble, along with several of the parents, put together a special wall for their coach Becky Diestelow. The wall is a tribute to her daughter, Briana Nicole Diestelow. It honors her memory with her photo, her cheerleading uniform, butterflies, and photos of all of the girls performing at their cheerleading competitions. It also features a quote, "Without change, there would be no butterflies."