PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - A special needs cheerleading squad made their debut on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Perryville Homecoming Football game with a special cheer.
They are called the Pirate Pride Cheer Squad and are part of the Perryville High School Cheerleading Squad.
"We decided to come up with a team for exceptional girls with lots of spirit and make our own squad," Special Services Teacher and Pirate Pride Cheer Coach Amanda Oberkirsch said.
They first started out by making an appearance in the Perryville Homecoming Parade Saturday morning.
Shortly thereafter, they stood with other cheerleaders at the game waiting for their time to shine.
"This is the first time ever!" Perryville Pirate Pride Senior Mackenzee Johnson said with excitement.
After the first quarter was over, the cheerleaders gathered on the sideline, with big smiles on their faces and cheered for the first time in front of the crowd.
"I'm so happy," Johnson said. "It's been really good for me. It's a happy thing for me."
It's a moment these girls and their coach have been working towards since the first of the school year but have had the spirit for years way before that.
"They would be in the stands cheering and they are so full of school spirit and now they actually get to take that and show the rest of audience what they have," Oberkirsch added.
The idea for the additional cheerleading squad came about earlier this year after one special needs student didn't make the cheerleading squad.
"We were planning it at the end of the school year after tryouts," Oberkirsch said. "The head cheerleading coach called me because one of the girls on the squad had tried out and was really upset that she didn't make it. So she wanted to try to do something to include the other girls."
After that, coaches talked and decided to make an extension of the cheerleading squad. It was then the Pirate Pride Cheerleading Squad was born and they had eight girls that wanted to be part of it and parents and coaches said they couldn't be more proud of them.
"It just fills my heart with pride seeing them out there doing a good job," Oberkirsch said. "They get out there and cheer with the other girls and they really just blend in."
While interviewing Johnson, she gleamed with excitement and always had a smile on her face.
"It's been wonderful!" Johnson exclaimed. "It's changed my whole life this year. It's been a great thing for my whole life."
She feels that she has had a lot of support from everyone as she is part of the cheerleading squad now.
"They mean a lot to me." Johnson said. "My family means a lot to me and all my friends support me all the way through school and through cheerleading."
The Pirate Pride will continue to practice new cheers as this is just the start of their performances at their high school games.
"I just feel so thankful!" Johnson said. It's changed me whole life."