In the midst of a heated basketball game, sounds of bullying directed at a cheerleader with Down syndrome floated across the court. The middle-school players were intensely focused on the game at hand, but knew right then that the abuse directed at cheerleader Desiree Andrews would not be tolerated.
“We walked off the court and went to the bullies and told them to stop because that’s not right to be mean to another person,” said Miles Rodriguez, one of the athletes.
To Fox & Friends, the athletic director at Lincoln Middle School in Wisconsin stated that ‘he was proud of the boys for what they did, as well as Desiree and the other cheerleaders.’
“It truly does take a village to do great things,” AD Tim Nieman said.
Brandon Morris, the boys seventh-grade coach at Lincoln, told the Kenosha News station that, “One of the kids stepped up and said, ‘Don’t mess with her.’”
Truly, in any form and for any reason, bullying is an offensive act which can scar a child long into adulthood – shaping the way they perceive themselves and the world. For that reason, it is is a brave act for anyone to step in and help dissuade bullying, but also a necessity.
Eighth-graders Miles, Chase Vasquez, and Scooter Terrien reportedly stormed off the court to confront the bully, who was giving cheerleader Andrews a hard time.
“We were mad; we didn’t like that,” Rodriguez told the paper. “We asked our sports director to talk to the people and tell them not to make fun of her.”
When Desiree was interviewed by TMJ4 about the incident, she described the gesture as “sweet, kind, awesome, amazing.”
“It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong because we’re all the same. We’re all created the same,” Terrien told TMJ4, a news station based in Wisconsin.
Last year began a tradition which introduced Desiree with the starting lineup for Lincoln’s boys basketball team, coach David Tolefree told Kenosha News. And in her honor, he added, the gym was renamed “D’s House”. Students also were T-Shirts celebrating her inclusion with the team.
Tolefree stated, “They have really stepped up, almost like they are big brothers to her. It’s good to see.”
Interestingly, Desiree’s father, Cliff Andrews, told the paper that his daughter’s interest in cheer-leading was inspired by the television show “Glee.”
“They have a character with Down syndrome who is a cheerleader. And she said, “If she can be a cheerleader, I can be a cheerleader.”
And according to cheer coach and Lincoln teacher Laura Stone, she believes Desiree’s participation on the team, and at school, has helped her students grow.
“She has been very special to us,” Stone said.