Once a bison - always a bison. It's a motto known to people who go to NDSU.
Bison Nation is a huge, but also tight-knit family. It's a family that rallies around their own when it matters the most.
Ashley Seykora sealed the deal with Bison Nation when she put on a cheerleading uniform her freshman year at NDSU.
Ashley says, "I had so much fun cheering at NDSU. I don't think there is anything like running through that tunnel in front of the team."
Ashley has since hung up her Bison uniform, but cheerleading is still a large part of her life. She says her two year old daughter Harper thinks she is currently a Bison cheerleader.
But, the game of life isn't always fair.
During her second pregnancy, Ashley got the unwanted announcement that the melanoma she had fought the year before was back. Because she was pregnant, doctors couldn't do a lot . They didn't want to hurt the baby.
Baby Beckett came three weeks early. The cancer did not spread to him, which is possible with melanoma. But, within days of his birth... Ashley got more bad news.
She is now stage 4.
The cancer spread during Ashley's pregnancy and is now in her liver. Once in the organs, statistics give most melanoma patients a year or two, but this mom of two isn't ready to give up the fight.
She says, "it's sad in my position, because of my kids, but at the same time... there are a lot of happy times... because of them."
Ashley and her husband are now both teachers in Towner, ND. They say they are amazed by the small town support. There have been dozens of fundraisers at their school, church and throughout the community.
Statewide her extended family has also thrown their arms around her. There's been an outpouring of support from the green and gold.
Ashley just had her sixth surgery and is doing chemo. It's not easy, but she tries to stay positive. She's working with Mayo Clinic, but now considering going to a hospital in Texas where they specialize in melanoma treatment.
Her future may be unknown, but this former cheerleader is focused. Ashley says, "I definitely have to cheer myself up." She says there are moments.... that she gets very sad. But she says, "I visualize bringing Harper to kindergarten or I try to visualize screaming at Beckett at basketball games... and being that annoying mom."
And, that mix of mom and cheerleader may be just what she needs to beat a rival that isn't playing fair.
There is an account set up at the Western State Bank in Towner.
Western State Bank
202 Main St. S.
Towner, ND 58788