(Franklin) — Many Heard County sports fans have noticed a very special cheerleader on the sidelines this season at Heard County Recreation Department flag football games.
Kaylee Holcomb, a kindergarten student at Heard Elementary School, has been cheering on the 5-6 year old flag team all season long which is the fulfillment of a dream for the young girl, a victim of Down syndrome.
Kaylee is the daughter of Michael and Tina Holcomb, and according to her mother has always been a big fan of cheerleading. “Kaylee always watches cheering movies like ‘Bring It On’ and her favorite toys since she was little have always been pom-poms,” says the mother.
After being very shy at home in her early years, Holcomb says that her daughter has really opened up since starting school at HES and especially since she began cheerleading this year.
“Kaylee just loves being the center of attention, ” Holcomb said. “I have never seen her happier than she has been during all of this season’s big events such as Meet the Braves, the Homecoming Parade, and the Homecoming game where she got to cheer in front of a sold-out crowd at Staples Stadium.”
Tina Holcomb is also the coach of the young cheer squad along with her assistants, Jessica Jackson and Amy Pollard, and Holcomb is thankful that Kaylee’s fellow cheerleaders have been amazingly patient and good with her every step of the way.
She also says that everyone at Heard Elementary is very accepting of Kaylee. “I was so worried about her starting school and that kids would pick on her and she would have a hard time but it has been the total opposite of that,” said Holcomb.
“Everybody at Heard Elementary knows Kaylee and she is always getting hugs every time she walks down the hall. She spends part of her day in special needs classes and part of her day in regular classes and she has made some of her best friends in her regular classes. Kaylee has about five or six tiny little moms watching over her every single day.”
Kaylee is also a very active participant in the Special Olympics young athletes program at HES, competing in several different competitions last year.
Down syndrome (DS) or Down’s syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is the most common chromosome abnormality in humans,and the CDC estimates that about one of every 691 babies born in the United States each year is born with Down syndrome.
Because of the numbers three (tri) and the 21st chromosome, World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated each year on March 21. One of the most interesting things about Kaylee is that March 21, 2008 is also her birthday.
Even though flag football cheering season has ended, Kaylee is not ready to crawl back in her shell just yet. Instead she will be participating in another big event this Saturday at the Cultural Arts Center in Carrollton.
Kaylee will be participating in the the Miss Sparkle Pageant, a beauty pageant for special needs females, where she will be vying for the title of Little Miss Sparkles with other special needs children from ages 5-9.
The mission of the Miss Sparkle Pageant is to provide opportunities for girls and women of all ages with disabilities to build self-confidence through the skills learned in pageantry in a supportive environment. The pageant is open to individuals in the West Georgia area.
The entrants will experience all the aspects of a beauty pageant including pageant training, hair and make-up applications, and the chance for the individuals to learn interview skills with the judges.
A queen in each age level will be crowned and all others in the level will be crowned princesses. The final show and crowning begins at 6:00 p.m. Saturday at the CCAC.