Spartan Sparkles Cheerleading Squad

October 16, 2009
Watch the cheerleaders at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, and you may want to stand up and cheer yourself. They don’t always execute perfect routines; in fact, they may miss steps or clap off beat once in a while. But their fun is contagious.

These cheerleaders are like no others. In the Spring of 2008, cheerleaders Sarah Cronk and Sarah Herr got the idea to expand their varsity squad.

“I got really inspired when I went to a Special Olympics program where they had a bunch of cheerleaders come and we helped them with the clinic and everything,” said Herr. “I was like, I want to spend more time with these great athletes.”

Herr went to her coach, Pam Cinadr, and said she wanted to have a special needs squad cheer with the Pleasant Valley Varsity team.

“I just anticipated that it would be another flash in the pan, but once she got a hold of it she had a passion and it just took off,” Cinadr said.

The recruits, ages 8 through 15, all have special needs, from autism to down syndrome. They’re called the Spartan Sparkles, and they work every bit as hard as the varsity girls.

Since the spring of 2008, the older girls and the Sparkles have practiced together twice a week.

“Their confidence has grown a huge amount,” said Brenna O’Neill, 18, the cheerleaders’ captain. “Every single day they walk in with a bigger smile on their face, and they run and they’re excited to see everyone and they’re ready to practice.”

“The big thing is that when we started we thought we’d be teaching them cheers,” said Herr. “But we didn’t think they’d be teaching us. They’ve taught us so many things about life and it’s really amazing.”

At every game during every season, they’re out there – cheering together.

Cheering Brings Acceptance

“I think that it’s really given them a feeling of belonging and acceptance. Usually when someone has a disability, society can only see what they can’t do, but through the sparkle effect, we’ve really exposed what they can do,” said Cronk.

“These obstacles they’ve overcome are just tremendous. I’ve learned a lot about perseverance,” Herr added.

“Like there’s thousands of people dying to see us perform,” said 12-year-old Katie Dwyer, a member of the Sparkles.

And the best part of being on the team?

“Fun, yeah!” said Dwyer. “The friends. The friends I’ve made.”

Go HERE to watch the video clip. Seriously, go now and I challenge you not to blubber. It is worth noting that Mark grew up in Bettendorf, IA. Although Pleasant Valley is his high school’s cross town rivals, it still makes us proud.

posted by JRS at 11:50 PM on Oct 22, 2009

Betsy Von Furstenberg by Mike Ludlow

Betsy Von Furstenberg

Artist: Mike Ludlow was a glamour illustrator who did much pin-up work in the late 1950s for Esquire. He painted the entire twelve-page calendar for 1957 – the last published by the magazine. His pin-ups also appeared in the series of three-page centerfolds known as Esquire’s Lady Fair. For these works, Ludlow often called on actresses like Virginia Mayo and popular personalities like Betsy Von Furstenberg in addition to professional models.
Ad works for Balantine Ale, Douglas Aircraft, RCA (classical LP covers). Story art for Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle.

Betsy von Furstenberg was born on August 16, 1931 in Neheim, West Phalia, Germany. She is a famous actress. She is very good in painting and riding. Betsy is also a good player of Tennis.

Betsy started her career as an actress with the famous movie “Donne senza nome” in which she played the role of Boshe in 1950. She acted in television series “Disappearing Trick” in which she played the role of Laura Gild in 1958.
Betsy played a lead role in the famous television series “Another World” which was released in 1964.

Read more:

Basketball players learn the Charleston in the hope it will help their game

Credit: National Photo Co. "The Charleston as an aid to the game." Created between 1920 and 1932. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.