GARLAND - Have you ever achieved a goal that, at some point, seemed impossible?
That is what 13-year-old Maddie Thompson did this past weekend. She’s a 7th grader living with Down syndrome but defined by her love of cheerleading.
After 10 years on her private team with Cheer Athletics, she wanted to try out for the squad at her school, Coyle Middle. Her mother feared she wasn’t getting the fair shot she deserved, including extra help as part of a rule by the US Department of Education. She shared her concerns with WFAA in this story, from March 8.
Shannon Thompson’s persistence paid off on Saturday when after several rehearsals, Maddie’s dream came true and she made the school team.
Maddie’s successful audition also marks the beginning of a new policy at Garland ISD.
The district says it's created an auxiliary position on the cheer squad for special needs students. They’ll receive any physical accommodations needed to audition with the rest of the team, and they’ll earn their spot, not by competing, but by meeting a minimum score. That is now the pilot program at Coyle Middle School this year, where Maddie attends, but the district says it will expand it to all its middle schools next year.
"It made me extremely happy to know, too, that we’ve helped kids that are going to come up behind her," said Shannon Thompson.
So by achieving her goal, Maddie’s paving the way for others. That has a lot of families, special needs or not, cheering.
For more on Maddie's cheer career, see her page on Instagram.
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