EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSLocal High School Shows Support For Cheerleader With Down Syndrome
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 27, 2013 6:10 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 27, 2013 8:51 PM EDT
St. Albans , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Texas cheerleader with Down syndrome has been considered a "liability" by school officials.
It is a situation raising some eyebrows nationwide, including at St.Albans High School, where one of the shining stars on the cheer leading squad also has the genetic disorder.
Kenda Hager, 16, is a cheerleader at St. Albans High School. She has Down syndrome and helps lead her school at games and pep rallies.
The thought of another young woman, like her, being held back because she's considered a liability has the school rallying together to show that not only is Kendra not a liability but that she is the true meaning of school spirit.
It is a big night for the St. Albans Red Dragons, as they prepare for the Battle of the Bridge against the Nitro Wildcats.
The cheerleaders are preparing to hopefully lead their team to victory, but there's one that steals the spotlight every game with her unwavering school spirit.
When asked if she likes being a cheerleader, Hager replies, "Yeah," with a smile.
She said "going up in stunts," is what she likes most about it.
"The girls treat her just no different. Just like she's one of them," her mother, Tessa Walcup said.
When Walcup heard about the story in Texas where a high school cheerleader with Down syndrome was deemed a liability and asked to stop cheering from the sidelines, she was baffled.
"Any child can be hurt on the sidelines, so why would they just assume and call her a liability. What was the difference?" she said.
The story has only made Kendra's team rally around her even more.
"I think of her as kind of an inspiration," freshman cheerleader Kristin Dailey said.
Her coach said Kendra earned her spot on the team, and is treated just like the other girls. They said having her there has made them all look at life a little differently.
"Her mother, she originally had thanked me for having Kendra on the squad," coach Savannah Perry said. "But I can't imagine not having her there. We should be thankful to have her on the squad, because she really is a blessing to us all. Everyday she humbles us in some way."
Friday night, as her team gears up for the big game, she's sending a special message to anyone faced with an obstacle, striving to achieve their goals.
"Practice hard," she said.
As for the case in Texas, the school is working with that girl's family to come up with a plan to keep her cheering safely.
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