Shining Stars with special needs win big at Dallas Cowboys cheer event

A national cheerleading competition at AT&T Stadium drew hundreds of teams and thousands of competitors Saturday. But one small team with three girls with special needs, who competed for the first time, got some of the loudest cheers.

The Shining Stars who train at Express Cheer in Frisco performed in their first ever competition with thousands of other girls on a very big stage.

Kaly Schultz, Sienna Brignola and Gracie Patxot performed a two-minute routine backed up by helpers at the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Nationals Competition. The crowd went wild and gave The Shining Stars a standing ovation.

"I'm having so much fun with my family," said Kaly Schultz. She said she wasn't nervous because she had practiced a lot.

Sienna Brignola loves her heavy trophy. Her parents were thrilled her daughter had the chance to learn and compete. "In terms of allowing her to maximize her potential, it's no different than any other child," said Sienna's father Nick Brignola. "It was so much fun watching them and seeing how far they've come," said Brianne Brignola, Sienna's mother.

Gracie Patxot says her favorite part was just competing with her team. Her parents are so proud. "The fact that they're including your kids. It means so much to have our kids included equally, treated just the same as the other girls," said Gracie's mother Gloria Patxot.

Billy Smith, owner of Spirit Celebration, was asked who he thought got the bigger cheer Saturday. Was it the Shining Stars or the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? "I would give it to the Shining Stars in two seconds because the joy they bring to everybody in the stands. Watching the kids and the moms in the stands it was just really cool," he said.

The Shining Stars are one of several special needs groups that competed. "We have a special place in our heart for these kids with special needs," said Smith. He said a lot of education goes into practice. The girls are encouraged the 'Just Try It' mentality. "We're trying to get every gym to have a special needs team", said Smith.

Spirit Celebration, the company that produced the competition, is also working with companies to develop equipment to help train children with special needs.

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