Monday, February 20, 2012

Three Cheers (and Strike a Pose) for Brielle!

Special Twist Dance Squad
Brielle is second to the far left
Special Twist Cheer Squad
Brielle is to the far left

It was a big competition weekend for Brielle and her Special Twist friends at the CheerSport Nationals Competition in Atlanta this past weekend!

We are so blessed that Brielle is able to participate in a cheer and dance squad specifically for girls with special needs. The squad was started by an eight-year-old girl who wanted everyone to be able to do what she loved -- cheerleading! Together with her mom, they've been coaching the squad for the last seven years. Although they do not have any special needs kids in their family, their love of the sport and their passion for helping these kids keeps them coaching. In addition to the (now) teenage girl and her mom, the squad is helped by more than half a dozen teenagers who "spot" the lifts and provide guidance to the girls throughout their routines as well as provide their friendship and encouragement. The bond between the girls and the "helpers" is precious to watch.

This is Brielle's second year participating and she absolutely LOVES it! Although it's a tough schedule of practicing year round every Sunday afternoon plus several competitions each winter and spring, it's been a wonderful experience for her. The activity is a natural physical therapy session plus gives her an opportunity to spend time with friends (kids with special needs) and helper friends (kids who do not have special needs). The best part is that she gets to spend time with her best friend! -- Think you can guess from the cheer picture which girl is her best friend?

This weekend was a HUGE weekend competition with tens of thousands of cheerleaders and dancers on five big stages at the World Congress Center in Atlanta. Loud music. "Colorful" uniforms, costumes, make-up and hair do's. People everywhere. Screaming girls. And we were one of them! It was amazing to watch all of the special needs squads performing and especially all of the cheers, respect and support the audiences gave them. Although our girls placed sixth out of 13 cheer squads and second out of two dance squads in their special needs divisions, they did their best and had a great time.

Brielle came home tired with her feet hurting from all of the walking. And yet, after being home just fifteen minutes, she was playing the video of them performing in Chattanooga from a month ago and doing their routine with the video. What a nutty kid!

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