DALLAS - The best cheerleaders may be those who know what it's like to beat the odds. And perhaps that's why the Notre Dame School cheer team in Dallas is so full of enthusiasm. It is a small, private school for special needs students.
Every single person on the team has overcome overwhelming obstacles.
Take Victoria Harris, 16, for example. Her mother, Janice, said doctors told her Victoria likely wouldn't survive beyond birth, and if she did, she would likely grow up unable to walk or talk. She is missing part of her left brain and has complications with seizures.
Today, she is a vibrant, happy cheerleader.
"I'm so excited to be out there," said Victoria Harris, clapping her hands. "It makes me so happy!"
"Now she gets to be here with all these wonderful kids and cheer and just look at the smile on her face," said Janice Harris.
Kirsten Charhee, 17, is part of the school's cheer squad, too. Doctors also told her mom she would never walk or talk. Today, even in a wheelchair, she cheers with just as much enthusiasm as anyone on her team.
"It makes me feel so amazed because they told me that she would not be able to get this far," said her mother, Twondlyn.
Now the team is going even further. They were invited to cheer on athletes at the Special Olympics USA in Seattle, and the Olympics 50th anniversary in Chicago.
"Cheer really truly gave her a sense of normalcy," said Twondlyn Charhee. "Other than doctor appointments and in the hospital and sick all the time."
But travel can be expensive, and one-third of students at Notre Dame are on scholarship. Some of their parents can't work because they are full-time caretakers for their kids. And medical care can be expensive, too.
That's why Notre Dame is hoping to help raise enough money to send parents, students and teachers on the trip of a lifetime, after a lifetime of some very difficult moments.
"Their help would be really truly appreciated to help her be part of something we never thought in a million years we'd be a part of," said Twondlyn.
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