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Watch: Utah teen joins favorite country star at CMA Awards

She spent months recovering in the hospital, enduring several surgeries, but Sarah Frei still danced

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Sarah Frei and Russell Dickerson arrive at the 55th annual CMA Awards.

Sarah Frei, left, and Russell Dickerson arrive at the 55th annual CMA Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.

Associated Press

She spent months recovering in the hospital, enduring several surgeries, but Sarah Frei still danced.

From her hospital bed, the Utah teenager surprised her cheer team by learning the dance they had choreographed to country singer Russell Dickerson’s hit “Home Sweet” — which also happened to be her favorite song.

Three months after the car crash that paralyzed her from the waist down and led to both legs being amputated, Frei was released from the hospital —  just in time to perform with her team at the school’s last home football game in October 2020, the Deseret News reported. And her perseverance and optimism through it all caught the eye of her favorite country singer.

“That first of all just rocked my world, to see the joy and to see the just zeal for life still that she had, doing this dance to my song,” Dickerson said last year, according to the Deseret News. “It just drew me in and captured me.”

So last Christmas, the country star teamed up with Chevrolet to gift Frei a 2021 Chevrolet Traverse, outfitted for her specific needs. And he surprised her with it on a special Zoom call.

“Thank you for your joy and the love that you’re spreading all around to everyone who hears your story,” Dickerson told Frei at the time. “Keep inspiring people, girl, ‘cause you’re doing it, you’re crushing it. I love ya and we’ll see you soon.”

Now, nearly a year later, Frei has finally met her favorite country singer in person.

Frei, who is a freshman at Utah State University, was invited to be Dickerson’s special guest at this year’s Country Music Association Awards, which took place in Nashville Wednesday night. Her Instagram account details how she got to be on the red carpet with Dickerson, chat with other country singers and explore the Music City with her parents.

And then came yet another big surprise: She got to present an award alongside Dickerson on the event’s main stage, according to the Tennessean.

“Love always wins. Last night was so incredible,” Dickerson wrote in an Instagram post. “We got to share Sarah’s story with the world and let her light shine! Thank you @chevrolet@cma and my amazing team for making this beautiful moment happen! I love you @strong.like.sarah.”