As a fundraiser for the Special Olympics teams from the Blanchard Valley Center, the Liberty-Benton High School cheerleaders participated in cheering with the Special Olympics cheer team during the 2018 Local Celebrity Basketball Game. As a result of that one-time event, a special relationship has grown and developed between the two cheer squads.
Liberty-Benton senior, Chloe Wright, explained that as a senior Habitudes leadership and service project she wanted to see what else they could do to assist the Blanchard Valley group. After contacting the Blanchard Valley Center about possibly working with their cheer squad again this school year, it was discovered that the group was in need of a coach. As a result, the Liberty-Benton High School cheerleaders developed a partnership where they help each week at practices and games. Liberty-Benton Cheer Coach, Stephanie Miller, created a sign-up sheet for the high school cheerleaders to take turns in working with the Blanchard Valley cheer squad at practices and games, and the high school cheerleaders have enjoyed this interaction.
Senior Katie Lewis added, “It’s really great to give back to the community by spending time with people we wouldn’t have known, and we get to do something we all love.” She explained that the high school cheerleaders come up with cheers, teach the Special Olympics cheer squad words and motions at practice, work on fundamentals, and help to call out the cheers at games. The Special Olympics cheerleaders range in age from eight years old through adult, and it has been a really cool experience for everyone involved.
Coach Miller commented, “I have coached at LB for 12 years. This is my proudest moment. I watch my team interact with an amazing group of people they may have otherwise never known. I watch them give hugs and high fives. I listen as they ask questions about their lives. They show them how to be great cheerleaders, they encourage them, they laugh with them, and they are building relationships that are bringing memories they will take with them forever. I have watched my own team literally come alive as they love on their new friends.”
The high school cheerleaders gave the Blanchard Valley cheer squad goodie bags for Christmas with t-shirts, hair bows, water bottles, and towels, and it made all of them happy with their new surprises. Senior Chloe Wright explained, “My aunt is special needs so for me getting to help these girls have a great experience like we do is everything to me.”