Teen Athletes Take Stand Against Bullying

Cheerleader with Down syndrome finds allies among athletes and students


In friendship and in basketball, these junior high athletes are a cut above the rest.

Three eighth grade basketball players from Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, WI, walked off the court during a game after Desiree Andrews, a cheerleader with Down syndrome, was bullied from the stands.

Chase Vazquez, Miles Rodriguez and Scooter Terrien showed true sportsmanship when they went to the stands to stand up for their friend.

"The kids in the audience were picking on Dee, so we all stepped forward," Vazquez told TMJ4, a local news station.

According to Rodriquez, "A couple of us went over there and were like, can you guys just stop, that's not right.”

Terrien further noted to TMJ4 that, “It’s not fair when other people get treated wrong because we’re all the same ... God made us the same way."

According to the Mayo Clinic, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that results in a range of developmental and intellectual delays- from mild to severe-sometimes along with distinct facial structure with upturned eyes and flattened features. People with Down syndrome can also suffer a greater likelihood of health problems, such as heart trouble and immune diseases such as pneumonia. 

Despite her unique differences, Desiree's teammates and classmates are continuing to stand by her, now walking with her to class and naming their gym “Dee's House” after their new star cheerleader.

"It was sweet, kind, awesome, amazing,” Dee, who says she wants to be famous some day, said to TMJ4 about her new namesake.

"It makes me feel good for Desiree too 'cause now she, like, she said she wants to be famous, and she's already halfway there," Terrien said.

The players are now set to receive an award from the Kenosha Common Council for good citizenship, according to TMJ4, and they said they look forward to continuing to be an example for other kids and would-be bullies.

"All I'm gonna think is bullying is not the right way to go. Always stand up for your friends and protect one another," Terrien said.

About 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year, according to National Down syndrome society, and about 400,000 Americans live with the disease.