It is not every day that a person in their life time gets the opportunity to compete for a regional and possibly even a national championship. For a group of young cheerleaders, that opportunity could become a reality.
Arizona Pop Warner’s Challenger Cheer Team is a squad made up of special needs boys and girls. Any child can participate between the ages of 5-18 regardless of their needs which include Down syndrome, physical disabilities and autism just to name a few.
“My heart grows every time I’m with my girls, I feel so much love when I show up to practice because of all the hugs and attention I get from each of them,” said Stacy Johnson who is the coach for the Challengers Cheer Team.
This is the only special needs cheer team in Arizona Pop Warner comprised of individuals with special needs. Sending them to California would allow them the opportunity to compete against other special needs cheer teams in Pop Warner and help them continue with their leadership, confidence and sportsmanship lessons.
This year, the team has worked hard to qualify for regionals in Long Beach, California next weekend and now they have accomplished that goal. However, there is a hurdle needed to make this reality. They are short the funds needed to get to the WESCON Regional Cheer Competition on November 15.
The parents have been trying to help fund this opportunity but they can only do so much.
“They have enough on their plates.” in regards to Southeast Pop Warner trying not to ask the girls parents for money.
You might remember one young lady that is associated with this team. Chy Johnson from Queen Creek High School who two years ago dealt with atrocious bullying from some of the students at the school. But when members of the Bulldogs football team learned of this, all of that changed. Johnson, who has a disease known as microcephaly, has been associated with this team for quite some time. Since she is now 18, she cannot participate but Coach Johnson (no relation to Chy), has brought her on as an assistant coach.
These amazing group of kids need our help to be able to compete on a platform that both they and their parents might have never thought be possible.
“Your donation will allow my girls to travel to Southern California where they will show off their skills as cheerleaders, coaches and let’s be honest – extraordinary human beings,” stated Johnson.
To donate, go to www.sepopwarner.com. Let’s give these kids an opportunity that they will never forget.
Check out video of one of their past competitions: