December 3, 2013
Nominated by: Patricia Mabie, Mother
Nothing means more to Rheba than to fulfill her lifelong dream to become a veterinarian! While she may have faced roadblocks, she is determined not to allow anything else to deter her. Many would have started a career in veterinary medicine earlier in their lives but she is determined her life experiences have made her even more qualified to be a superb veterinarian.
Explaining the experiences that have made her who she is today is no easy task. Her work ethic and compassion began in early childhood as she realized she should be appreciative of everything she was able to accomplish. Her brother Hammie was totally mentally and physically handicapped and watching him struggle to breathe and being unable to do tasks most take for granted like moving or eating made her try to do the most with the gifts she had been given. Having Hammie in her life she felt was a blessing, and she worked hard at all she did, whether it was academics, athletics or personal relationships. This drive continues during her years now at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
Rheba excelled in all aspects from academics to athletics. She was her high school’s valedictorian and one of the top 4 students in the country chosen by USA Today. Rheba was a 4 year high school All State Girls’ Tennis Player and All State Girls’ Golf Player. She was not only an American Junior Golf Association Rolex All-American during high school but also an All-American Academic Golf Scholar at UW-Madison.
Rheba was doing well at UW-Madison and was making great strides towards veterinary school when she was forced to take a medical leave. Her health issues that began in college were finally diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. She eventually completed her degree through an extended degree program while helping her mother care for her ailing grandmother and aged godmother. She thought no doors were open for her as she was about as far from veterinary school as she could be. A school district was in desperate need of a teacher and she accepted a position teaching high school math.
After being diagnosed with MS in 1999, Rheba traveled down another life-changing path. She went to a Minnesota clown school led by veterans from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses in the summer of 2000. She donned a lavender wig, purple dress and size 20 shoes to become “Tutu Cute” the Clown. Within four years, Rheba won so many competitions that she was inducted into the Midwest Clown Association Hall of Fame.
Rheba began to play competitive golf again in 2005. In 2006 she progressed to the round of 16 at the 2006 USGA Ladies Mid-Am. In 2009 Rheba won the Wisconsin State Stroke play and was named 2009 Player of the Year. She has been chosen to represent the state of Wisconsin at the USGA National Team Championships in ‘07, ’09, ’11, and ’13.
Rheba became a science and agriculture teacher but in her heart still wanted to be a veterinarian. She has helped show the top Old English Sheep dog at the Westminster Dog Show in NYC for many years. Her love of animals has never waned. In ’12 she applied for the School of Veterinary Medicine at the UW and was accepted.
Rheba has persevered through the adversity and has endured. Rheba is a national MS patient advocate who uses her abilities as a golfer, clown, teacher and soon to be veterinarian to prove that life certainly can go on if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with MS. Rheba is the ultimate Stormy Kromer Living Legend 2014.
Charity: University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine
Hometown: Madison, WI