CENTERVILLE — Amanda VanCise, a young woman whose high school cheerleading uniform became the focus of local and national attention nearly four years ago, hadn’t spoken a word for the past six years.

But “it’s quiet here without her,” her mother, Lydia VanCise, said at her home Friday.

Amanda died Thursday, at home and in her mother’s arms, with her father, Craig, and other family close by.

The 23-year-old’s passing came after six years of living in a coma-like state, struggling to recover from serious injuries received in a car crash Oct. 31, 1999, that also claimed the lives of three of the former Maplewood cheerleading squad captain’s friends.

Amanda and her family became the focus of local and national media attention in 2002, after PENNCREST School District officials took her cheerleading uniform from her family’s home after stating it was needed by Maplewood’s cheerleading squad.

Before it was taken, the uniform lay folded on Amanda’s bed with her, as a comfort and a possible aid to her recovery.

Following reports in The Meadville Tribune and The Titusville Herald; a feature ridiculing school district officials on the St. Louis-based “Steve and DC” radio show; and offers from area businesspeople to buy the cheerleaders new uniforms, PENNCREST eventually backed off the controversial move, and offered to return the uniform to the VanCise family, who were greatly upset by the district’s decision to take the uniform.

The family at first said they didn’t want the uniform back, but eventually accepted the district’s offer to have it returned.

That was nearly fours years ago. Since that time, Amanda had “fought so hard” to survive, VanCise said Friday.

Her voice wavering, the mother said her only daughter “just got tired.”

Medical professionals advised the family following the crash that Amanda had only a 10 percent chance of surviving, said VanCise.

But “she battled. Her will and her love of life were the only things that kept her going.”

“She loved her life,” VanCise continued, sharing memories of Amanda as a girl, walking in the door and exclaiming “That was the most fun I ever had!”

That was “no matter what” Amanda had been doing before she got home, VanCise said.

“People should know she really enjoyed what little life she had.”

VanCise said she and the rest of Amanda’s family would like to thank her friends and “everyone for praying for her and for thinking about her ... and not forgetting about her.”

Throughout her struggle and up to its end, Amanda “knew she was home — and loved.”

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at

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