A TCU fraternity is helping a teenager with Down syndrome fulfill her dream of being a high school cheerleader.
Cheering is more than a hobby for 14-year-old Maddie Thompson. She’s been part of a private cheerleading squad for the past decade. But when she tried out for her middle school team a few years ago, she didn’t make it.
Maddie’s public journey is earning her praise and hugs from complete strangers. We caught up with her Sunday at a BBQ fundraiser, organized by the TCU chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
“There's nothing better than helping out this little girl get on a cheer team. It's about changing her life. It's easy for us to raise money,” said Pi Kappa Phi member and TCU Sophomore David Gaw.
Maddie is working to raise the $2,000 she needs to compete, now that she made the Rowlett High School cheer team.
The road to get her there hasn’t been easy. In 7th grade, Maddie tried out for the squad while at Coyle Middle School in Garland, but didn’t make the cut. Citing her disability, her mom, Shannon Thompson, challenged the district’s rules, asking that Maddie be judged against the score sheet and not the competition. Last year, she made the team.
“The biggest thing for me was they were grading her against all the other cheerleaders and in that scenario whatever her skills are she won’t make it,” said Thompson.
By Maddie’s side for the last decade, is TCU cheerleaders Cami Branson. She helped organize the fundraiser.
“She has such a positive impact on everybody's lives that have met her so it's no surprise everyone makes a big deal out of Maddie because she really is the most inspirational person in my life,” said Branson.
Maddie’s story even captured the attention of TCU’s head football coach.
“I've always said when hard work and dreams meet that's when greatness happens,” said Gary Patterson.
The fundraiser was a hit and Pi Kappa Phi exceeded the $2,000 goal.