A group of middle school basketball players walked off the court in the middle of a game when they heard bullying coming from the stands directed at cheerleader, Desiree Andrews, who has Down syndrome.
“One of the kids stepped up and said, ‘Don’t mess with her,’” Brandon Morris, who was the boys seventh-grade coach at Lincoln Middle School in Wisconsin, told Kenosha News.
Eighth-graders Chase Vasquez, Miles Rodriguez and Scooter Terrien stormed off the court to confront the bully, who was giving Andrews a hard time.
“We were mad; we didn’t like that,” Rodriguez told the paper. “We asked our sports director to talk to the people and tell them not to make fun of her.”
In a video on TMJ4 news in Wisconsin, Andrews called the gesture “sweet, kind, awesome, amazing.”
“It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong because we’re all the same. We’re all created the same,” Terrien told TMJ4.
In a tradition that began last year, the introduction of the starting lineup for Lincoln’s boys basketball team always includes Desiree, coach David Tolefree told Kenosha News. He added that the gym was renamed “D’s House” in her honor, and students wear T-Shirts celebrating her inclusion with the team.
“They have really stepped up, almost like they are big brothers to her,” Tolefree said. “It’s good to see.”
Desiree’s father Cliff Andrews told the paper that his daughter’s interest in cheerleading came from the television show “Glee.”
“They have a character with Down syndrome who is a cheerleader. And she said, ‘If she can be a cheerleader, I can be a cheerleader.’”
Cheer coach and Lincoln teacher, Laura Stone, told Kenosha News she believes Desiree’s participation on the team, and at school, has helped her students grow.
“She has been very special to us,” Stone said.