Carson High School girl lives cheerleading dream
Anyone who knows Maria Gonzalez knows her dream.
“She always talks about cheerleading,” said her teacher Karen Bianchi. “She even makes up cheers in class.”
But it was unlikely the 16-year-old with Down syndrome would ever realize that dream.
Until two varsity cheerleaders stepped in to make it happen.
Kimberly Gordon and Madison Dahlquist, both 17, heard about Maria’s aspiration and volunteered to help.
Although Madison had to withdraw her offer because of a back injury, Kimberly continued to work with Maria two or three times a week for about four weeks, teaching her a few basic cheers
“It was really fun,” Kimberly said. “She’s a really fast learner.”
On Friday night, Maria donned her blue skirt and joined the squad for the final home game of the season.
“I’m proud of her,” Kimberly said. “She finally gets to be a cheerleader.”
Like her fellow cheerleaders, Maria wore her uniform to school Friday. Bianchi cried when she saw her.
“She’s just an amazing child,” Bianchi said. “She feels beautiful. This is her dream, and it’s so exciting to see it come true.”
While Maria cheered the football team – which went on to clinch a share of the conference title – the crowd often cheered for Maria.
Her teachers from elementary and middle school also came out to show their support.
Although they were happy to see her living the dream, they weren’t surprised.
“It’s part of her persona,” said Teri Howley, special-education teacher from Carson Middle School. “It was either that or a rock ‘n’ roll star.”
Despite freezing temperatures, Maria would not be coerced into leaving early.
“I love cheerleading,” she said, waving her pompoms.