Special Olympics cheerleaders bring home state medals

Published 10:15 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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Cheerleading in Davie County is built on homegrown competition and camaraderie.

And that includes the Special Olympics Davie County (SODC) cheer teams.

Two teams represented Davie County at the 2024 Special Olympics North Carolina Cheerleading Tournament in Pittsboro, on Saturday, March 23: Davie Jets and Davie Eagles.

The Davie Jets brought home a gold medal, while the Davie Eagles brought home a bronze medal.

The Davie Eagles is SODC’s original, traditional cheer team and still consists of four founding members: Brittany Greene, Lauren Kirk, Sara Ijames and Jill St. Claire. Additional team members included Carrie Cook, Marc Cooper, Maggie Fitzgerald, Ruth Hites, and April Wolf.

The Davie Jets are a unified cheer team comprised of athletes and unified partners. For 2024, this team included athletes Brianna Abshire, Katelyn Anderson, Salem Cornatzer, Ivy Cowden, Sarah Feldman, Seth Grooms, Abigail Jepsen, and Sarah Riddle. Unified Partners included Chloe Charles, Mariah Crotts, Honor Presley Draughn, Makayla Gillaspie, Gabi Sandoval and Ellie Wilson.

Seth Grooms served as Captain of the Jets, while Brittany Green served as Captain of the Eagles. Both teams were led by longtime SODC Cheer Coach Kayla Bowles.

This year, the Davie Jets proved that making lasting connections is often more important than bringing home medals.

Since the inception of the team more than 10 years ago, Davie High School cheerleaders have served as the unified partners. However, due to being unable to assist this year, the South Davie Middle School (SDMS) cheer team stood in their place. From the outset, this group of girls had a mission to ensure inclusion both in the community and at school. Led by football Cheer Captain Honor Presley Draughn, the SDMS Tigers recruited SDMS sixth grader Brianna Abshire to be a SODC athlete, helping her realize a childhood dream of being a cheerleader.

But, the story did not end there.

Draughn and her teammates advocated that Brianna be able to dress as a Tiger cheerleader at the last home basketball game, bringing this story full circle with the support of school staff.

There are more examples of teens doing great things for others through the community of Special Olympics.

This year, DHS sophomore and cross country runner Ethan Lakey is returning as a student coach for SODC track and field. Draughn and Crotts, 8th graders, will also be helping as coaches along with senior Colby Groce from West Forsyth High School. Along with the hard work of athletes who represent Davie County in eight sports, this too is worth celebrating. Invaluable volunteers form the heart of SODC’s programming.

SODC offers a variety of sports and social opportunities throughout the year to athletes ages 8 and older of all ability levels. There is no age limit. New athletes and their families are encouraged to step into a world of support, friendships and growth.

If you want to learn more about local participation or volunteer opportunities, email davie@sonc.net.