Memorial plaque for UNLV cheerleader stolen

A piece of UNLV history is missing. A plaque honoring the late student/cheerleader Valerie Pida disappeared over winter break. (Denise Rosch | KSNV)

A piece of UNLV history is missing. A plaque honoring the late student-cheerleader Valerie Pida disappeared over the winter break.

"Valerie was just an amazing person," said Shana Stott, Pida's friend.

UNLV cheerleader Valerie Pida, the heart, and soul of UNLV basketball in the 1980's. Her story making national news as she battled Hodgkins Lymphoma. The firecracker who could not be stopped.

"She put off treatment to go with the Rebels to the Final Four. She was happy, found the positive in everything," said Stott.

Sadly, Pida passed away in November 1992. And by 2000, a plaque was dedicated in her honor. It was situated right outside the Student Union. Now, it's missing.

"It's really disturbing. No one has any use for that," Stott told us.

A statement from UNLV reads in part: "We remain saddened by the theft of the plaque and we are working diligently to have it replaced."

Before her death, the school renamed a courtyard: "Pida Plaza."

"Why someone would steal something that was sentimental to our generation, as Rebels, it's really disheartening," said Stott.

In 1991, News 3 covered Valerie's excitement and reaction to the honor.

"I couldn't believe it. I think I fell out of my chair when he told me in his office," said Valerie in 1991. "And it really hasn't sunk in that they dedicated a Plaza to me."

And her friends say she deserves better than this.

While the plaque is insured and UNLV is working on a replacement, it's what it symbolized that matters.

The Rebel who's story should not be lost in time.

"Hopefully, with this story, people will look her up and see a little bit about her," said Stott.

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