School athletes defend cheerleader with down syndrome who was bullied

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015
After a cheerleader with Down syndrome was bullied, a group of basketball students came to her aid.
Kenosha News photos by Kevin Poirier

After a cheerleader with Down syndrome was bullied during a middle school basketball game, the players stepped up and did something truly inspirational.

Desiree Andrews is a student cheerleader with Down syndrome at Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wis. Desiree was performing at a basketball game last year when she was bullied from the stands. That's when the boys from the Lincoln basketball team decided to have a time out and rallied behind Desiree.

"One of the kids stepped up and said, 'Don't mess with her,'" Brandon Morris, who was the boys seventh-grade coach last year, told Kenosha News. "Then all of the guys got together to show her support."

The players were visibly upset by how Desiree was being treated. "We were mad; we didn't like that," Miles Rodriguez, an eighth grader at Lincoln Middle School, told Kenosha News. "We asked our sports director to talk to the people and tell them not to make fun of her," he said.

Now, the team regularly includes Desiree in their game time rituals. During their last home game of the season, the team held a special chant just for Desiree, where they shouted "Who's house? D's house!"

The positive reenforcement has definitely been beneficial to Desiree. "It's amazing," Desiree's father said. "It's been a godsend to us ... those boys, I tried to talk to them in person, but I couldn't keep the tears back."