14-jan-kolbie-davisTeammates. They become your friends and your family. It’s an unbreakable bond that for some leaves a lasting impression for the rest of their lives. In Kolbie Davis’s words, “They’re the best friends in the whole world. I love them.”

Kolbie is a freshman at Council Grove High School in Kansas. She was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a condition which cut off oxygen to her brain. This caused permanent damage and developmental delays, which in turn make her frightened when surrounded by loud noise and lots of activity. When first making the decision to send Kolbie to high school, her parents, Janette and Jamie, were concerned that she would be overwhelmed by interactions with other students and the pressure of walking the hallways.

Setting their fears aside, Kolbie started high school. As the year progressed, the school’s cheerleading coach filled in as Kolbie’s para. A para is a teaching-related position at schools and in this circumstance was an aide for special education. The coach brought Kolbie to practice and she loved it! The squad loved her too.

“She was such a high spirit,” co-captain Jordan Birzer said. “She’s one of the friendliest girls I’ve ever met.”

Kolbie continued to hang out at practice regularly, participating in the fall for football and moving into basketball. The squad was teaching her cheers and during the homecoming parade, she was even invited by the cheerleaders to ride on their float. Kolbie’s family began to notice that she was enjoying school and always talked about her cheer family. It seemed her interaction and participation with the cheerleading team had encouraged her to be more outgoing and less afraid of her surroundings.

One night during a basketball game in January, the cheerleaders made Kolbie an honorary member of the team. She stood beside her friends, leading the crowd with her spirit, chants and pom poms. The best part was during halftime when the cheerleaders presented Kolbie with her very own team jacket and gave her a place of honor – sitting her atop of their bended knee pyramid.

“I don’t think they realize the impact they’ve had on her and our family by including her,” Jeannette said. “It gave her a place. For her to come in and have a place, to have girls, the cheerleaders, just love on her in this way and accept her and help her along – It just means a lot.”

Not only have these cheerleaders impacted Kolbie’s life, but Kolbie has changed theirs too. This is a great reminder of why America Needs Cheerleaders. Keep it up ladies!