With so many students navigating going back to school during the novel coronavirus pandemic, social activities and sports play an even more crucial role in keeping them active, included, and engaged in the world around them.
Kayla Kosmalski, a 14-year-old from Delaware, was excited to begin her first year of high school, even though her classes are all online. But what she was most looking forward to was trying out for the junior varsity cheerleading squad.
Kayla, who has Down syndrome, has been dancing since she was 4 years old. She was a cheerleader until she was about 6, but it had been a while since she’d dusted off her pompoms.
Feeling rusty, she memorized all of the cheers and chants for her upcoming tryouts with help from her mother, Amy Kosmalski. Thanks to COVID-19, there were fewer spots on the squad than in previous years. Kayla knew she would be competing with 36 other students for just 20 spots, so she and Amy spent more than 16 hours practicing for her audition.
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“We worked together all weekend because she wanted this so much,” Amy told GMA, noting that her daughter “has the most incredible grit and determination.”
On the day of tryouts, Kayla felt confident enough to say, “Don’t stress, Mom, I’ve got this.”
The next day, Amy handed Kayla a phone so she could see who made the cut. The proud mom recorded her daughter’s reaction when she spotted her name on the list, and it’s just too beautiful for words!
In a video, we can see the emotion in her eyes as the realization hits her. She’s overwhelmed with joy, but the first thing she does is thank her mom for helping her practice. Aw!
Amy couldn’t wait to share the clip on Facebook, where it quickly went viral. She said the positive reaction is a huge step toward eliminating the stigma around Down syndrome and making her daughter feel loved.
“This girl fills the world with so much good… I’ve never seen her react like this. Ever. I’ve never seen her want to be a part of something so badly,” Amy wrote on Facebook. “Inclusion matters. For everyone.”
Congratulations, Kayla! We hope you have a wonderful season on the squad and make lots of new friends. You certainly earned it with all your hard work!
Watch her tear-jerking reaction to the good news in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story to spread the love.
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