"Some doctors told me, 'You shouldn't be dancing,'" she said. "But I couldn't not dance."
When she was just two weeks old, Emily's dad noticed something off while changing her diaper.
"He just noticed like a clicking, almost, in her knee," Emily's mom, Traci, told FOX40.
Doctors they visited couldn't pinpoint the problem.
"Doctor after doctor after doctor is like, 'Eh, she's fine. It's just growing pains,'" Traci said.
But her parents noticed Emily's leg would sometimes give out when she was walking or dancing and, as she got older, the pain got worse until one day when she was just two and a half years old, she began screaming.
"I will never forget. The doctor instantly saw her," Traci said. "Instantly said to us, he said, 'I think she has discoid meniscus disease.'"
Essentially, the tissue that acts as a cushion in the middle of her knee was not attached and had come out of place.
Within about a week, Emily underwent her first surgery to try to repair the issue -- and that was just the beginning of her medical journey.
"Even after the first surgery, there was never that like, 'A-ha! It's fixed,'" Emily's mother said. "She was still in pain."
Over the next decade, Emily had three more surgeries but the severe pain never went away.
With nowhere else to go, Emily's parents took her to Shriners Hospital.
"I remember just crying and saying, 'I need somebody to help my child.' And I'll never forget Penny, his nurse, I was talking to her and she said, 'He's the one that's going to fix your daughter. Like, this is it,'" Traci said.
Dr. Haus was the first doctor to realize Emily actually didn't have a meniscus at all.
He was able to completely rebuild her knee.
After six months on bed rest and crutches, Emily was cleared to start dancing again and less than a year after her final surgery, she not only competed in a dance competition -- she took home first place.
"I didn't think I was going to do that well," Emily said.
The inspiration behind her performance was her 15-year journey it took to get to where she is.
"That was actually about my knees," she said.
Now, she credits the newest trophy on her shelf to Shriners.
"I don't even know. I wouldn't be dancing probably," she said. "I wouldn't be anywhere without them."