Local cheerleader, coach to receive national honor

4:26 PM, Apr 29, 2008   |    comments
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Bomgaars, an Evergreen High School freshman with Down Syndrome, joined the cheerleading squad last fall. Since then, Bomgaars, her teammates and coach have made school and state history, and are now being honored in the nation's capital.

Bomgaars and Coach Tammy Dufford will receive the "National High School Spirit of Sport Award" from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

According to the NFHS, the award is given to those who "exemplify the ideals of the spirit of sport that represents the core mission of education-based athletics."

The Evergreen team was first profiled on 9NEWS in November.

Other cheerleaders with Down Syndrome have participated in mainstream cheerleading at area high schools, but Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) Spirit officials did not know of any such student before Bomgaars who competed at the tournament level.

Bomgaars' mother, Kris, told the team it was alright if Megan sat out the competitive portion of the season, so as not to negatively affect the team's scores.

That idea was roundly rejected by Bomgaars' teammates. She had been accepted unconditionally. She was on the team, they said, and that meant every game, every tournament.

The team thrived in competitions last fall, taking third place at the Jeffco Spirit Invitational and winning the Small Varsity Division at a regional competition.

The Evergreen Cheer Squad also received a statewide award for good sportsmanship from the Colorado High School Athletics Association (CHSAA).

A written release from the National Federation of State High School Associations praised the team for their example.

"This is an exceptional story and one that embodies all that is good and right about high school sports," the statement read.

Bomgaars and Dufford will travel to Washington, D.C. in July to receive the national award.

Bomgaars' mother, Kris, is trying to find sponsors that would allow the entire cheerleading team, about a dozen girls, to attend the ceremony.

"They've changed her life," Kris Bomgaars said.

Anyone interested in helping the team make the trip to Washington, D.C. is encouraged to contact Evergreen High School.

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