Big Inspiration from a Small Town

December 13, 2013  |  Life Beyond Cheer

Loranger, Louisiana may be a small town, but it’s full of big hearts. Haley Rose is a sophomore at Loranger High School. She is living with Down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped her from being an active member of the Loranger High School Varsity cheerleading team.

Growing up, Haley always cheered on the Wolf Pack from the stands on Friday nights. So it was only natural that when she became a freshman, she would try out for the LHS cheer team. She tried out in the spring of 2012 and was able to learn and memorize the material just as well as the other candidates.

“That’s Haley’s blessing, her memory,” said LHS cheer coach Maggie Helmstetter. “She takes material in and then it is stored, for what I think is, forever. She knows every cheer, sideline and dance that we perform.”

Haley loves being on the sideline and cheering for the Wolf Pack. Some of her teammates have even formed a stunt group with her and taught her how to base!

This past summer Haley suffered a stroke.  Doctors said it was truly a miracle that she lost so little of her motor and cognitive skills. Cheerleading was always her motivation to get better.

“Every time she had to return to the hospital for follow-up tests I would tell her that she had to get well so that she could stunt again,” said Maggie. “And her response was always the same – ‘Oh yeah baby!’”

Haley attends UCA summer camp, cheers with the squad at every game and even performs an exhibition routine with the team at local competitions. Last February she traveled with the team to the NHSCC and was able to be on the mat during awards. It was a dream come true for Haley because as an avid Varsity TV viewer, she recognized the familiar backdrop from the competition videos she watches so often.

On Saturday, December 7th, another dream of Haley’s was fulfilled thanks to Varsity employee and UCA Louisiana State Director, Amanda May. Through Amanda’s efforts, Haley was given the opportunity to perform her exhibition routine at the LHSA’s Louisiana State Cheer and Dance Competition. She was “through-the-roof” excited to be able to perform with “her girls” and Brad (Loranger High School has a male cheerleader) at such a big event. The team received a standing ovation and Haley took home a special trophy for her performance.

“I cannot say enough about Amanda. She has been a great State Director, always available to answer questions and provide up-to-date information about Varsity and UCA,” said Maggie. “But she has been elevated to a whole new level in the hearts of those of us here in Loranger who are associated with LHS cheer. Amanda May is a special individual within the ranks of the Varsity brand.”

Haley continues to inspire her teammates at LHS, but her impact goes beyond just the cheer squad. She has been selected by her peers as a member of the LHS Homecoming Court for the last two years, and she also participates in several events at the Special Olympics.

“Haley Rose is truly a blessing. When things get rough, we always take a step back and try to see things through her eyes,” said Maggie. “We are reminded that in her heart there is a pure, unadulterated love for her teammates.  She cheers for the Wolves not for the uniform or the exposure, but for the love of cheer and her school.”

-Kim Conley