A Nebraska girl born with incomplete arms and no legs has finally achieved her dream of being a cheerleader - thanks to a high school coach about 800 miles away.
Julia Sullivan, 16, of Aurora, and her family traveled last week to Portland (Michigan) High School at the invitation of Portland cheerleading coach Linda Fox, who had Sullivan join her varsity squad for Friday‚Äôs homecoming football game.
It was the first time that Julia, who tried out for her high school‚Äôs squad in Nebraska three times without success, had cheered on a team in public, CNN affiliate WILX reported.
‚ÄúI love to get the crowd going, and (I‚Äôm) just ‚Ä¶ excited (to) show the world what I can do,‚ÄĚ she told WILX.
Fox said she‚Äôd read about Julia‚Äôs efforts to join her squad in Aurora.
‚ÄúI was surfing the Internet and came on Julia‚Äôs story, and I was very inspired,‚ÄĚ Fox told WILX. ‚ÄúI brought it to the team, and they challenged me to do something.‚ÄĚ
¬†Julia and her parents, Mike and Carolyn Sullivan, flew to Michigan at their own expense, the Omaha World-Herald¬†reported.
Julia, wearing a modified Portland High School cheerleading uniform, cheered on the sidelines from her chair, and participated in the final stunt with the help of the team, to the applause of students in the stands, according to the Ionia (Michigan) Sentinel-Standard.
‚ÄúHer cheering may not be quite the same as other people‚Äôs, but she can still do it. She can strap on the pom poms¬†‚Äď her spirit is still there,‚ÄĚ Mike Sullivan told WILX.
Julia intends to try out for her high school‚Äôs squad next year, WILX reported. The family and the school district last month agreed to work on making accommodations for her disability, but the district is making no guarantees that she‚Äôll make the team, the World-Herald reported.
Julia had previously taken dance classes and participated in pep and marching bands, according to the World-Herald.