Missouri Teen with Down Syndrome Makes Cheer Squad


JACKSON, Mo.(KFVS) – Tuesday night, football teams across the heartland take to the field, and cheerleaders are ready to show their spirit. But one Jackson teen has been working for years to let her spirit shine bright.

Bayley James is a senior at Jackson High School, and she was born with Down syndrome. But that isn’t stopping her from living her dream of being a varsity cheerleader.

James calls it the best day of her life; the day she made the varsity cheerleading team.

“Mommy! I’m in! Yay!,” James said.

She’s been cheering for six years, dreaming of being on the squad. Now, those dreams are a reality. Jackson Senior High School Head Cheer Coach Jana Scott says she worked for them.

“She continues to work – not even in practice, but she goes home every night and works on these cheers, and it shows,” Scott said.

Jackson practiced all summer. Her goal was to learn ten cheers.

“Then we went to 15, now she knows every cheer that we’re going to do, and that’s close to 50 cheers. So, to me that just is inspiring,” Scott said.

The feeling is mutual, according to James.

“My coach is amazing because she makes me happy, and she makes me go out and cheer,” James said.

Maddy Walker, a junior at Jackson Senior High School, thinks James’ determination isn’t just pushing her forward.

“She works just as hard as we do – if not harder,” Walker said. “It’s really important for us to support her.”

Harper Guilliams, a senior at the school, agrees.

“She earned her spot on this team, and every time she comes to practice she proves that she earned that spot, and that makes me really proud to have a teammate as great as she is,” Guilliams said.

James says she gives it her all.

“I want to go to be 100%,” she said.

Coach Scott says James not only inspires her teammates but everyone she meets.

“I think it just shows that you never give up,” Scott said. “You have perseverance, and you keep trying if you have a goal, and this is Bayley’s time, and she’s ready to shine.”

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