Cheerleader with Down syndrome inspires others

6:55 PM, Feb 28, 2014   |    comments
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BOISE, Idaho -- This year, there's a special addition to the cheer squad at Centennial High School.

Rachel Massingale is new member of the team, proving that if you have the determination, you can do anything you set your mind to.

You see, Rachel has Down Syndrome.

She's always wanted to cheer, and now she's doing it -- and inspiring the people around her.

"It has been so much fun, she is just a little energy ham," said Rachel's proud mom, Denise. "She loves to perform in front of people."

Rachel says she loves to dance. And this year, she is doing just that -- as a full fledged member of the cheer squad.

She even has her very own cheer coach -- Melissa Casey -- who works one-on-one with her.

"At the beginning, we were given 52 cheers for her to learn and I was a little bit nervous," said Melissa. "But boy she is a trooper and has learned them all. She has even added her own little spirit to them."

What Rachel may not realize is that she's inspiring everyone around her, especially her teammates.

"I am very inspired by Rachel, I think she's taught us all a lot" said teammate Mika Muta. "She always gives 100 percent."

"She teaches me to accept people for who they are no matter what," said teammate Mihaa Grant.

They see just how hard Rachel has worked for this and what it means to her.

"You can definitely see a difference in her confidence and attitude," said Denise.

Rachel is doing a lot more at Centennial than just cheering and making new friends. She's a trailblazer for the young girls with special needs who will no doubt follow her.

"I think I'm part of the team, and I'm really happy because I am," she said.

MORE INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
* Special needs cheerleaders sparkle in Dacula
* The story of Rachel and Jeffery
* Dakota, a remarkable prom queen

(Maggie O'Mara, KTVB, Boise, Idaho)

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