Special needs cheer squad takes top prize in UCA championship - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Special needs cheer squad takes top prize in UCA championship

(WMC-TV) - A group of Mid-South cheerleaders is celebrating after taking home the top prize in a recent competition. But we are not talking about your typical cheerleaders. These athletes are facing challenges ranging from down syndrome to autism.

They are now international champions after winning it all in Florida.

Gianni Bunton is close with every member of her cheer squad.

"They are my best friends," she said.

And now, they are more than best friends. They are champions.

Bunton and her special needs squad of cheerleaders won first place at a Universal Cheerleader Association competition in Orlando.

"They want to be treated and to do what everybody else does," said coach Kristen Holloway. "And we can do what everybody else does."

Holloway is a teacher for DeSoto County Schools and she is also the coach of this special needs team. She says there are not a lot of places for the girls to cheer, so she was thrilled to see them compete in Florida.

"The UCA competition in Orlando is the world series of cheerleading," she explained.

This year, several squads from the Mid-South, including Gianni's, were able to come home with the prized black jacket.

"One of my girls in particular that has a cousin that cheers on the regular team was in tears because she had finally won her black jacket," said Holloway.

This talented squad is not done just because they have a gold medal. Parents say they have several more competitions coming up in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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