A Wisconsin cheerleader with Down syndrome no longer has to worry about bullies thanks to some big-hearted basketball players who have rushed to her defense.
Desiree Andrews, a cheerleader at Lincoln Middle School, was inspired to take up cheerleading after watching Glee.
“[The show has] a character with Down syndrome who is a cheerleader,” her father, Cliff Andrews, told KenoshaNews.com. “And she said, ‘If she can be a cheerleader, I can be a cheerleader.’ ”
Not everyone sees it that way, though.
Some spectators at Lincoln’s games have been less than kind to Desiree. That is, until the team members stopped the bullies in their tracks.
“One of the kids stepped up and said, ‘Don’t mess with her,’ ” Brandon Morris, who coached the boys’ seventh-grade basketball team last year, told KenoshaNews.com. “Then all of the guys got together to show her support.”
The team renamed Lincoln’s gym “D’s House,” and started a pre-game tradition of running over to Desiree for high fives and fist bumps. Monday was their last home game of the season, and the team started the game with a chant: “Who’s house? D’s House!”
Timothy Nieman, one of the team’s players, told local NBC affiliate TMJ 4 that their actions were, “Standing up, being a true team, not only a basketball team, but a team of people that are going to support somebody.”
Their efforts have made a meaningful impact on Desiree’s family.
“Those boys, I tried to talk to them in person,” her father told KenoshaNews.com, “but I couldn’t keep the tears back.”