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UW-Platteville Cheer and Stunt Sparkle Effect Team

UW-Platteville Cheer and Stunt Sparkle Effect Team


LATELY, THEIR CHEERLEADING SQUAD HAS BEEN GETTING ALL THE ATTENTION. IT’S ALL THANKS TO THE “SPARKLE EFFECT”… A PROGRAM THAT STARTED IN IOWA IN 2008. AFTER A PUSH TO GET AREA KIDS INVOLVED…IT’S NOW FLOURISHING…AND CHANGING LIVES…ONE GAME AT AT TIME. MAYBE IT’S IN THEIR EYES… “SO AMAZING, IT REALLY IS,” MAYBE IT’S THEIR SMILE. “LOOK AT THAT SMILE, HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS GUY?!” WHATEVER IT IS… “IT’S GREAT, IT’S GREAT TO SEE ALL THESE KIDS SMILE,” THESE CHEERLEADERS SPARKLE! “IT’S A GIFT, IT’S A GIFT THERE’S NO OTHER WAY TO SAY IT,” PATTI MITCH IS THE HEAD COACH OF THE UW PLATTEVILLE CHEER AND STUNT TEAM. THE TEAM HAS 30 ATHLETES…BUT THIS YEAR SHE BROUGHT ON 8 NEW MEMBERS CALLED SPARKLES. “THEY ARE PART OF OUR TEAM, THEY ARE COLLEGIATE CHEERLEADERS AS FAR AS WE ARE CONCERNED,” “THE SPARKLE EFFECT” IS A NATIONWIDE PROGRAM THAT HELPS CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES BECOME CHEERLEADERS. “THESE KIDS HAVE THE SAME FEELINGS DESIRES AND DREAMS AS OTHER KIDS AND ALL THEY WANT IS TO BE INCLUDED WITH EVERYONE ELSE,” KIM ADAMS IS DEVIN’S MOM. SHE WAS HESITANT AT FIRST BECAUSE DEVIN IS IN A WHEELCHAIR AND DOESN’T SPEAK MUCH…BUT DEVIN COULDN’T WAIT TO PUT ON ORANGE AND BLUE. “I CAME HOME AND SAID DEVIN TO DO YOU WANNA BE A CHEERLEADER AND HE HAD A SMILE FROM EAR TO EAR AND SAID YEA!!!” SHE SAYS HONESTLY, HE WANTED TO JOIN THE TEAM FOR ONE REASON… “NUMBER ONE? GIRLS HAHA!” “HE’S GOT EVERY GIRL ON THIS TEAM WRAPPED AROUND HIS FINGER,” “LET’S GO BLUE! LET’S GO BLUE!” LAKYN MERFELD JOINED UP FOR A DIFFERENT REASON. “BECAUSE I WANTED MY DREAM TO COME TRUE TO BECOME A CHEERLEADER,” SHE TRIED OUT FOR A TEAM IN HER HOMETOWN OF DUBUQUE, IOWA… BUT SHE WAS TOLD SHE WASN’T STRONG ENOUGH TO PARTICIPATE. “THAT MADE ME SAD,” “I THINK THAT EVERYONE AT SOME POINT IN THEIR LIFE HAS FELT LIKE THEY DON’T BELONG TO SOMETHING AND THEY BELONG. THEY’RE NOT BEING SET APART, THEY ARE INCLUDED IN WHAT EVERY OTHER KID THEY SEE GETS TO DO,” STAND-UP “THERE ARE MORE THAN 80 SPARKLE TEAMS ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY…BUT THOSE ARE JUST IN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS. HERE AT UW-PLATTEVILLE THIS IS THE FIRST SPARKLE SQUAD AT THE COLLEGIATE LEVEL.” “IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY FULFILLING,” NATE STYX IS A CHEERLEADER AND A MENTOR FOR ONE OF THE SPARKLES. HE’S NEVER WORKED WITH SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS BEFORE AND WAS NERVOUS AT FIRST…BUT THAT FEELING QUICKLY WENT AWAY. “THERE’S REALLY NOTHING LIKE IT, I CAN SEE IT IN THEIR EYES THIS IS THE MOST FUN THAT THEY’VE HAD. THEY LOVE EVERY MINUTE OF IT AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES DOING THIS WORTH IT IS SEEING THE SMILES ON THEIR FACES,” “KIDS WITH DISABILITIES ARE JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THEM,” MITCH SAYS THE PROGRAM HAS HAD A PROFOUND IMPACT ON HER LIFE AS WELL. “THE FIRST COUPLE PRACTICES I LEFT I WAS SO OVERWHELMED I WAS IN TEARS BUT NOW I LEAVE AND I’M JUST SMILING. THE JOY AND EXCITEMENT AND PLEASURE THEY GET OUT OF THIS AND THEIR PARENTS AND I STILL TEAR UP A LITTLE BIT BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING,” THIS TEAM IS SPECIAL BECAUSE EACH AND EVERY MEMBER SPARKLES. “TO KNOW THEM, TO MEET THEM IS TO LOVE THEM AND YOU MEET THESE KIDS FOR 10 MINUTES YOU’RE GOING TO FALL IN THE SPARKLE TEAM MEMBERS RANGE IN AGE FROM 11 TO 23 AND ARE FROM ALL OVER SOUTHWESTERN WISCONSIN, IOWA, AND ILLINOIS. THEY ARE LOOKING TO ADD MORE MEMBERS SO…TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SPARKLE EFFECT, INCLUDING HOW YOU CAN DONATE AND SIGN UP SOMEONE YOU KNOW…JUST HEAD TO NBC 15 DOT

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