Story by Eastern senior cheerleader Sloane Coleman
On Saturday, September 30th 2017, the Eastern High School cheerleaders went to the Big Four Bridge and dedicated hours to helping around the DSL (Down Syndrome Louisville) walk and supporting their Best Buddy on the team, Ellie Meredith.
Ellie has been cheering alongside the cheerleading team this season during practices and football games; she is loving every minute of it! The girls on the team love having Ellie on the team because she brings such a positive energy wherever she goes. So, when Ellie asked the girls to come support her at the DSL walk, the team couldn’t have reacted quick enough-everyone loved the idea! There were shirts that read “Ellie’s envoys” that everyone wore: the team, Ellie, as well as Ellie’s other friends and family that came to join as well! There was a sense of unity between Ellie, her friends, and the team; all that were involved were having a great time.
The University of Louisville cheerleaders are usually the team that “represents” this walk, however, since they had a game that day the Eastern cheerleaders were asked to fill in! The team cheered on the runners as they ran the 5k that supports Down syndrome awareness and support. The team ran the “spirit sprint”: a fun activity where some people that were affected by Down syndrome could race one another and get a medal at the end. Many other people were there helping around the event and making sure everything was running smoothly and fun for all the participants; the team said it was amazing to see how something as small as a little bit of their time could impact so many people in such a positive way.
Eastern Cheer Coach, Tyra Anderson, said that this will be something she would like the team to participate in for years to come. “I always like to incorporate volunteer work into our season, I think it’s important to give some of your time to the community if you are in the position to do so. I’ve also found service projects to be great team bonding for the team and helpful towards self-development. Since coming back to coach in the cheer program I’ve found numerous service events for the team to partake in. They’ve all been important but the “DSL Steps to Independence Walk” this year was an event that was really special for our team. For the event all of our athletes arrived at 7am to the waterfront to volunteer during the 5k. After volunteering all of the girls stayed and walked in the family and friends portion of the event to support their teammate, Ellie Meredith who has Down syndrome. As their coach, I’m always proud to see these young ladies out in the community, and last Saturday was definitely an exceptional moment. To witness the girls spread love and happiness to individuals and their families who unfortunately don’t always get that same sense of warmth and support from others in our society, and to see them all come together for a teammate was honestly such a beautiful thing. Though walking a few miles may seem minimal to some, it was a large gesture that truly meant a lot to senior Ellie Meredith; I’m glad that we were able to be a part of it.” – Tyra Anderson on the DSL walk.