Cheerleader with Down syndrome breaks limitations with an inclusive community by her side

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ULYSSES, Kan. (KSNW) – Varsity cheerleader Katie McElroy brings life to squad.

“She’s like the glue to our team, she just brings everybody together,” said Hannah McElroy, sister and teammate.

“If you get into a cheer, she’ll get into it. She doesn’t care if she doesn’t know it, she’ll just go for it,” said teammate Tyann Weis.

But it hasn’t been easy for Katie.

“When you have a child born with Down syndrome, they tell you all the limitations. That’s what you expect, a life of limitations, but she can do anything, she can do anything and I never would’ve expected it,” said Cindy Warner, Katie’s mom.

“I dance because I like to dance for people,” said Katie.

The limitations haven’t stopped her. Katie stunts and dances, plays basketball and is in choir.

Both of her coaches said the team has become a family.

“Our team is really close, they are really tight. They’re talking sleepovers, they’re talking going out for pizza,” said cheer coach Lori Barnes.

“I believe that Katie is changing the way the other students view the cheerleaders,” said cheer coach Chelsea Hardin.

Katie’s mother said she is happy to see her daughter have the support of her team and community.

“Just the fact that she is allowed to because of the inclusion that the schools supportive of her being included in normal sports,” she said. “It’s not only our school and community that spreads the love to Katie, but it has also been every school we play against.”

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.