Thanks to Carol Bartholomew of Hilton Head Island for sharing the story of a special trip for a cheerleading team that includes her daughter.
By Carol Bartholomew
We are all familiar with the classic children's story, "The Little Engine That Could," which reveals the value of optimism and hard work. A small group of Lowcountry families recently experienced a similar story in real life, with a happy ending.
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The Island All Star Special Team, made up of special-needs people ranging in ages 15 to 55, competed for the first time at the Cheersport National Championship at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.
This is the world's largest cheerleading and dance national competition with more than 980 cheerleading teams and 25,000 people attending. The two-day event included 22 teams from across the country comprising special-needs cheerleaders.
Typically, the Island All Star Special Team has only a handful of special-needs teams to compete with, so this was truly an opportunity to shine.
The obstacles were many.
The team never had traveled such a far distance and for more than one night.
The competition was stiff as most teams came with an army of supporters.
And the physical size of the convention hall with five enormous stages was intimidating to say the least. Maneuvering team members with mental and physical challenges among thousands of people is no easy task.
It was all very exciting and the team was spirited and anxious to perform. On the stage, the team was fearless, beaming with smiles of pride and delight.
The participants competed successfully on Day 1, and after hours of waiting for transportation, they returned to the hotel and practiced some more.
Day 2 came with frigid temperatures and even a snow flurry. Once again, the team was prepared with the "I think I can" attitude, and confidently took the stage. Participants' smiles won the hearts of many and their cheers were convincing.
After their performance, the tears on the coaches' and parents' faces said it all. Regardless of the judge's outcome, the Island All Star Special Team had just climbed a mountain and proved that with hard work and dedication you are simply rewarded with joy.
They faced veteran teams with veteran coaches from storied gyms. They worked hard and did their absolute best.
And in this case, the end of the story is even better, for the team was honored to win third place.
They returned home with huge trophies and slick, monogrammed leather jackets.
Special thanks to coaches Julie, Connor and Alex Dafler and coach Cindi Faulkner for believing in our cheerleaders and guiding them over the mountain. This victory is dedicated to you.
By C.W. Longenecker
If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
If you think you'll lose, you're lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will.
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you are out classed, you are.
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of your-self before
You can ever win the prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
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