Rhonda Willis - book donation

Rhonda Willis, left, and Verdigris Librarian Viki Holbrook, right, hold the two books Willis donated to the Verdigris High School and Verdigris Junior High.

It was during cheer practice in 2013 when a cheerleader fell out of a stunt. Rhonda Willis didn’t hesitate to step in and catch her – a decision that would lead her down a path she never planned on.

Willis coached cheerleading and taught comprehensive social studies and English at Verdigris Public Schools for over 20 years.

After catching her team member, Willis found herself needing two back surgeries and four hip surgeries.

She decided to retire in 2017 so she could focus on resting and healing her body.

It was during her time of rest when she decided to listen to what people have been telling her to do for years and write a book.

Her book, 'Til The River Runs Dry: One Woman's Journey, is a book on her experiences in life. Willis recently donated two books to Verdigris Public School – one for the high school and one for the junior high.

Growing up, Willis said she had the perfect life. She grew up in Bell, Mo and was very athletic.

At 9-years-old Willis knew she wanted to teach and coach after listening to John F. Kennedy's quote, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

As she began her life after college, she found herself facing many obstacles ranging from death to infertility.

“The next nine years were a mess,” she said.

Willis said her book expresses the lesson she shares with everyone – never give up.

“You never give up because things will work out,” she said.

Willis said whether she’s speaking to her cheerleaders or at a convention, she shares the message of perseverance.

“If it’s not going to effect you in 40 years, don’t worry about it,” she said.

Willis began writing her book in 2017 and it was published Dec. 10, 2020.

Willis said she is writing another book titled The River Still Runs.

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