DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – With pom-poms in hand, and relentless joy in their hearts, the cheer squad at Dallas’ Notre Dame school polishes their big routine: and they’re not at all territorial with their support.
“If they can get an audience, they’re out there cheering,” says the school’s Special Olympics Head of Delegation Debie Smith. And that’s a good thing, because the squad has been invited to cheer at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer.
“They might be cheering on team Japan, they could be cheering on team Brazil,” Smith said, adding, “So, they’ll get an opportunity to meet people from around the world and you know what? The unique thing is, they’ll be kinda like them, and that’s special.”
Students at Notre Dame have a diagnosis of mild to moderate mental and often developmental disabilities. Life has already handed them limitations, so school staffers are determined to help them enjoy as many opportunities as possible.
“Just to be able to say ‘I was at opening ceremonies’ at a big event like this… it’ll be amazing.’ They’ll come back talking on and on about it, which will be wonderful to hear.”
Smith says this summer’s Special Olympics World Games will be the first to include cheerleaders, and the students are literally flipping with excitement. And while the team has spirit to spare, it’s going to take more than heart to get to Los Angeles.
Smith explained, “We have cheer coaches, airfare, hotel, transportation.” She estimates the team needs to raise about $25,000 to take the entire team. But, she remains optimistic that the community will come through.
“I’m a firm believer. I say ‘don’t let the finances stop you’, because there’s always a way… there’ll be a way. They’re gonna go — and they’ll have a great time.”
Because in the great game of life, you won’t find better ‘sports.’
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)