TOPEKA (KSNT) – One local cheerleader is ready to pass along her pom-poms to those who might not otherwise get the opportunity.
Sydney Wonnell is a cheerleader at Washburn University and has been cheering for the past 10 years. Her sister, Ellie, has been in the stands cheering her on every step of the way.
“Ellie’s just always been on the sidelines cheering for me at most of my games growing up,” Sydney said. “And, I’ve just always wanted to have there to be a group for her to be involved in.”
She decided it’s time for Shawnee County to have an inclusive cheer group so Ellie and others like her can also have their shining moment.
“I wanted to have something to do with coaching when I graduated, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make a group for her and kids with other disabilities,” Wonnell said.
So, she started Team Tenacity, an all-inclusive cheer group for kids with intellectual disabilities ranging from 8-years-old all the way up to 18. For one mom, to see her daughter, Willow, becoming part of a group like this is something she never thought she’d be able to see.
“I can’t wait to watch her cheer at halftime,” Willow’s mom, Sarah Long said. “You know, a vision that I didn’t know would, you know come true for her or not so. But I think that she’s going to rock it.”
As of now, Team Tenacity has a handful of kids ready to cheer on their favorite teams. For Wonnell and Long, they see this team as something both Ellie and Willow can be proud of.
“She’s always been someone that I’ve looked up to and everything that she faces every day,” Wonnell said. “And I’m just excited to be able to help her achieve something that she’s always kind of wanted to do and then to help other kids achieve some of that as well.”
“I mean, she’s so deserving of something fun, and this is going to really, I feel like, make her feel plugged into her peers and her community,” Long said.
For now, the goal for Team Tenacity is to perform on the football field during Washburn University and area high school’s halftimes and quarters. Sydney told 27 News she’s working to become a certified coach with the goal of creating the first Special Olympics Cheer Team in Shawnee County. For more information about Team Tenacity, or to sign up, click here or email Wonnell at email@example.com.