LANSING, Mich. — Inside of the WILDCATS Cheer Pride gym in Lansing you'll find a group of athletes who love the sport of cheerleading.
"We are a competitive cheerleading program," CheerAbilities Director Ilah Coe said.
The WILDCATS Cheer Pride has been a family since 2010.
"We have a full year elite teams, travel teams. We have show teams," Coe said.
And they also have the SuperCats.
"SuperCats is our cheer abilities, special needs program. It is ages five and up," Coe said.
They are a team who will cheer their way into your hearts. They started the team in January of 2019 as a class and then it evolved from there.
"We do everything from tumbling, and stunts and jumps. And we have a dance within the routines. And they have the same opportunities as their peers, a competitive cheerleading team," Coe said.
On the mat you will find athletes like Isabella Fredericks who's bright smile shines through when she is performing.
"I feel happy because I love cheer. It's one of my favorite sports. Yeah. I just like being around everyone. Tumbling stunting," Isabella said. "I'm working on my back walkover right now. I'm so close to getting it."
With the help of buddies the program not only helps athletes build up different skills it also builds up inclusivity.
SuperCats Coach Amanda Thompson says being able to coach the athletes is the most rewarding thing ever.
"It warms your heart to see them be able to do something that might not have been possible," Thompson said. "Just to see them on stage and light up and being with pride because they get to do what their peers are doing. Usually there's not a dry eye in the audience."
Ashlie Columbus has been a part of the SuperCats for a couple of months.
"I love it. It's the most amazing thing ever," Ashlie said.
Her grandmother Barbara Eilf says cheering is something Ashlie loves and got into it when she was younger. But as they got into competitive cheering it wasn't easy.
"Ashlie has a disability. It's a neuromuscular disease. It's called Myasthenia Gravis. Normally people in their 30s and 40s develop it and she developed it before the age of one," Eilf said.
She says Ashlie had trouble with her feeding, eating, and some language.
"They said she would never talk and never walk." Eilf said. "She's proved everybody wrong."
And now she is able to show off her moves with everyone else on the SuperCats team and leave it all on the mat.
"I feel like I'm a part of something," Ashlie said. "I feel like I found where I belong."
As a grandmother Eilf says it's a good feeling being able to watch her granddaughter do what she loves.
"It's an amazing feeling that she's capable and able to do the things that she wants to do. Her grandfather and I do not hold her back. One bit. We push her to do her own thing and to make her as strong as we can," Eilf said.
The SuperCats are getting ready to bring it on at their competitions this season. But they are hoping more from the community will join their team.
"It doesn't matter if they just walk across the stage and wave. They're part of the team. They're part of the pride. They're part of this family," Thompson said.
For more details on the SuperCats and how you can get your kids or yourself you can visit the WILDCATS Cheer Pride Facebook page.
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