September 28th, 2011
08:23 AM ET

Disabled girl gets spot on cheer team, hundreds of miles away

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’s homecoming football game.

It was the first time that Julia, who tried out for her high school’s squad in Nebraska three times without success, had cheered on a team in public, CNN affiliate WILX reported.

“I love to get the crowd going, and (I’m) just … excited (to) show the world what I can do,” she told WILX.

Fox said she’d read about Julia’s efforts to join her squad in Aurora.

“I was surfing the Internet and came on Julia’s story, and I was very inspired,” Fox told WILX. “I brought it to the team, and they challenged me to do something.”

 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.

“Her cheering may not be quite the same as other people’s, but she can still do it. She can strap on the pom poms – her spirit is still there,” Mike Sullivan told WILX.

Julia intends to try out for her high school’s 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’ll 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.

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Filed under: Michigan • Nebraska
soundoff (333 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Well done, Portland, Michigan.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  2. sum it up

    Actually a positive story in the that's good news.

    September 28, 2011 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. bigwilliestyles

    A few good folks left. Thumbs up!(Just when you're sure that the world is going to hell in a hand basket while whistling a merry tune.)

    September 28, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. justathought

    Applaud positive stories, GOOOOO JULLLIAAAAAAAA!!!

    September 28, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Mojo Jojo

      You mean...


      September 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mad Hatter


    September 28, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bimbo the Birthday Clown

    Yes, but the piggish comments will come, don't worry.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. gung hoe

    Cuttos to Julia and the tiny town of portland,Wish they wouldve said when she was gonna be on the field Isnt aurora in ILLONOIS just curious Good mournin banasy ,Remember when alan jackson

    September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    Can really tell whos got class on here banasy justathought and who doesnt

    September 28, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. forest gump

    @gung hoe. I may not be a smart man but, i know auroras dont happen in illinois lest your in the northern part.

    September 28, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. Justine

    Such an inspiring story. Such a beautiful girl and GO GIRL for makin your dreams come true!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jodie

    Second great story I've read about Portland today - I think it's time to move! You guys rock!

    September 28, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  12. Rsprings

    Very very cool!. Go Michigan!!! Nebraska..not so much.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rsprings

    ZZ...I hope you are not being mean by you comment. If you are then you aren't a Sharp Dressed Man

    September 28, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Patricia

      I must show my affection for your kesndins giving support to individuals who really want guidance on this one question. Your personal dedication to passing the message up and down was incredibly advantageous and have constantly helped men and women like me to arrive at their pursuits. Your amazing interesting report means a great deal to me and still more to my peers. Regards; from each one of us.

      July 11, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. F0st3rs

    Good positive story. It is a shame that no school within 800 miles was willing to break out of the norm and give her an opportunity. How many other kids lose out because of misguided sense of perceptions.

    September 28, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. Funky-face

    Because everyone has a RIGHT to do EVERYTHING

    September 28, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Jodie

      Why shouldn't every kid in school have a chance to try everything? Isn't that what those learning years are about? Way back when I was in school, every kid who wanted to could be on the Pom Squad, and every one of those Pom Squad members who wanted to, got to spend at least a little time on the field with the regular cheerleaders during games.

      September 29, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
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