Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Most of the time I am perfectly happy behind the lens of my camera.  This past weekend was no exception.  As tears were streaming down my face, I stood with the rest of the crowd...applauding, cheering and clapping.  I stood there clutching my camera close to my face but I was still.  I remember shouting out a few "wooohooos" and "yays" but apparently as hot tears were sliding down my cheeks, I was forgetting to actually push the button that makes the camera take know...minor details.  I was just completely overwhelmed.

Kayla joined a cheerleading squad this year.
The spirit, joy and enthusiasm on the team is beyond contagious.  When they smile, you smile.  When they cheer, you cheer.  It is a team of kids with special needs...accompanied by "typical" middle and high school cheerleaders that work with the team because they want to.  Giving up an hour or two every week to practice.  Sending a message of acceptance to all of those around's a beautiful thing.  I am so grateful for the coach who opens the gym to our team and the kids that work with Kayla and her friends.

This past weekend was their first competition.  They were the first to take the floor...and the only team of athletes with special needs.
Go Wings!

When they took the floor I was beyond nervous.  Kayla had the cheer down...word for word...
Topflight Allstars, one of a kind.  National Champions one more time!

She had the stunts, the forward roll, the jump...but the dance...not so much.

Before she went out I just told her to have fun, smile and shake her hips...and my girl did just that.  Nothing else mattered.  She was happy.  So much for the high V in the stunt...she was more concerned with waiving to her adoring fans!
When their routine was over and the crowd was moved to their feet {the one and only time that day}, I couldn't control the tears.  They were tears of happiness, of course.  Tears of pride.  Tears because my girl and her friends got the one thing that I want for her in life...RESPECT.  The crowd respected them.  The judges respected them.  The other cheerleaders respected them.

Sunday we delivered a message.  In a world of "typical" cheerleading squads...people with disabilities can compete, too.  People with disabilities can cheer, have fun, laugh...and just be "typical" kids.

They can be exactly who they were meant to be...perfect just the way they are.  I mean the end of the day does it really matter if you land a jump perfectly or dance right to the beat or remember every step of the routine?  Are those the things in life we remember from childhood?  No.  It's the memories.  The memories of having fun.   Life should be one big hot fudge sundae filled with scoops of happiness, drizzled with love, dollops of laughter and sprinkled with friendship.   But to me, the cherry on the top...the one thing that will make the sundae perfect...will always be respect.

Wishing you love, laughter, happiness and more than anything, giving respect, you will get so much more in return.


  1. oh oh oh! love this post, and I say that as a proud previous cheerleader:) you go girl! oxox

  2. I love reading about Kayla's adventures - usually through eyes clouded with tears. I love your emotion, your wit, & your determination and how that is obvious within Kayla. However, this post inspired me...strike that, it has fueled a burning, white hot passion in me. As a former cheerleader, a former cheer coach, and the Mom of a special needs child, I'm going to look into creating a team just like Kayla's team in my community. Thank you for sharing your sweet girl with the world (or in my case, a friend of one of your friends) and thank you for what you inspire within me as a Mom.