'Everybody is capable of shining.' Cheerleading squad with special needs heads to world competition in Florida

The Special Forces Cheerleading Squad is unlike any other because the team is made up of student athletes with varying special needs. But that doesn't stop them from achieving their goals and soaring high.

News 12 Staff

Mar 31, 2022, 2:22 AM

Updated 807 days ago

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A local cheerleading squad is heading to a world cheerleading competition.
The Special Forces Cheerleading Squad is unlike any other because the team is made up of student athletes with varying special needs. But that doesn't stop them from achieving their goals and soaring high.
Special Forces Cheerleading Squad trains at Cheer Dream Xplosion, a gym in Matawan. Lucia Millan is the director and owner and opened the gym eight years ago after her own daughter's battle with scoliosis cut her dream of competitive cheer short.
Millan wanted to give differently-abled student athletes a platform.
"They just want to be like all the other cheerleaders, and they want to be able to do the same thing. And for us to be able to give that to them, and give them a home…just make them feel that they're apart of who we are, no different in any way," said Millan.
The team doesn't only give them a platform for their athleticism, but it also helps with other life skills, like working as a team and making friends.
The athletes' range in age from 8 to 21. They also have varying special needs. Millan says this is the first season that the athletes are independent - working on their own with no assistance.
The squad is now headed to Florida to compete in the The CheerAbilities - Elite Division.
Special Forces is the first special needs cheer squad selected from Central Jersey to compete in the CheerAbilities competition, which gives student athletes with disabilities a platform to perform in a high expectation environment with competition standards.
"Everybody is capable of shining in their own way and I think this gives them a platform to shine where in life, they might not, or the average person might say you can't do it or look down on them," said head coach Brooke Palle.
The team will head to Florida at the end of April. They have a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.


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