After a middle school cheerleader with Down syndrome was bullied during a game, players on her school’s team had an amazing response — and now the entire nation is rallying along with them.
The incident actually took place a year ago, when Desiree Andrews was cheering for her basketball team at Lincoln Middle School. Desiree is a student with Down syndrome who said she was inspired to join the cheerleading team after seeing a character from the show Glee who did the same thing.
At the game, a group of young fans were bullying the cheerleader with Down syndrome. When players on the Lincoln team saw what was happening, they stopped the game and walked off the floor to confront the bullying fans.
The story made its way to the Kenosha News this week, with the many of the players who rose to Deisree’s defense ending their eighth grade year and playing their final home game. The players had sparked a friendship with Desiree, referring to their home court as “D’s House” and chanting “Who’s house? D’s house!” in their pre-game huddle.
Though it was a local feel-good story at first, it quickly got much, much bigger. The story of the bullied cheerleader with Down syndrome quickly went viral, getting coverage in People magazine, The Huffington Post, and even a feature in ESPN.
On Twitter and Facebook thousands of people shared Desiree’s story, commending the students and the entire community for their positive response to what could have been an ugly incident. At a time when news is saturated with horror stories about bullying, this one with a happy ending struck a chord with many readers.
The players who stepped up for the bullied cheerleader say they learned a lot from the incident.
“It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong,” said basketball player Scooter Terrien, “because we’re all the same; we’re all created the same; God made us the same way.”
Desiree’s father, Cliff Andrews, said he wanted to thank the boys who defended his daughter, but found it too difficult to put his thanks into words.
“It’s been a godsend to us,” he said. “Those boys, I tried to talk to them in person, but I couldn’t keep the tears back.”
The incident has touched everyone in the Lincoln Middle School community. Teachers say that students have grown closer and become more compassionate since the players stuck up for the bullied cheerleader with Down syndrome, and Desire Andrews said she no longer walks to classes alone.
[Image via Kenosha News]