Though hundreds of teams competed Saturday at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, it was a small team of only three girls with special needs that captured the heart of spectators.
The Shining Stars, who train at Express Cheer in Frisco, performed their routine for the first time ever, along with thousands of other cheerleaders on a very big stage.
Kaly Schultz, Sienna Brignola and Gracie Patxot performed their routine with the assistant of other Express cheerleaders at the Spirit Celebration – Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Nationals Competition. The girls received a standing ovation and cheers throughout the entire stadium.
Kaly Schultz said she wasn’t very nervous because she had practiced a lot.
“I’m having so much fun with my family,” Schultz said.
Sienna Brignola said she loves her “heavy” trophy and her parents were thrilled her daughter had the chance to learn and compete. “In terms of allowing her to maximize her potential, it’s no different than any other child,” said Sienna’s father, Nick Brignola. “It was so much fun watching them and seeing how far they’ve come,” said Brianne Brignola, Sienna’s mother.
When asked what was her favorite part about the competition, Gracie Patxot said it was just competing with her team. “The fact that they’re including your kids – it means so much to have our kids included equally, treated just the same as the other girls,” said Gloria Patxot, Gracie’s mother.
The owner of Spirit Celebration, Billy Smith, was asked who he thought got the biggest cheer on Saturday – the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders or the Shining Stars?
“I would give it to the Shining Stars in two seconds because the joy they bring to everybody in the stands. Watching the kids and the moms in the stands was just really cool,” he said.
“We’re trying to get every gym to have a special needs team,” Smith said. He said a lot of education goes into practice and the girls are encouraged the “Just Try It” mentality. “We have a special place in our heart for these kids with special needs.”
Spirit Celebration is also working with other companies to develop equipment to help train kids with special needs.
Information from: Fox4News.com