Sparklers receive invite to World Games, seeking funding for trip


Sparkler Cheerleaders pump up the crowd at a pep rally. They received a standing ovation at every event they cheered at this year. (Tomica Charles photo)

The music starts and a handful of students sporting red and blue cheer outfits and huge smiles make their way out onto the court. As they wave their poms to the rhythm of the song, the crowd sings along.

“Get your sparkle on!”

And the students do. Despite their varied physical impediments, the students are not only able to dance along to the song. They are also able to bring spirit and smiles to all who watch. 

The Sparklers, the special needs pep team, have been chosen to perform at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in July. The group is the only squad representing Texas and one of only 13 squads across the nation that will cheer on teams at various sporting events and perform in the Opening Ceremony.

“The Sparklers have worked so hard for so long,” senior helper Ke’Anda Delley said. “They deserve this opportunity, and I’m ecstatic that I get to be a part of it and enjoy it with them. This will be a great experience and such a joy to see them representing DHS at the Special Olympics.”

To make their trip possible, the group needs to raise approximately $12,000. Funds from the student vs. faculty basketball game on April 16th at 6 PM will go toward this cause. In addition to this effort, the group has also created a GoFundMe account and has collected money at other school events.

“When I read the email sent out by Mr. Womack about the game benefiting the sparklers I almost cried,” coach Elizabeth Thompson said. “I am honored to have the student council behind us on our fundraising endeavors.”

Thompson, who has been involved with special needs children for much of her life, is looking forward to this experience with her students.

“I am very excited and honored to be chosen for the world games,” Thompson said. “I volunteered as a teenager in the world games, and it was a great experience. I know that we will have a great time.”

The squad is just as excited about this opportunity.

“I am going to have a lot of fun,” senior Sparkler Brooke Anderson said. “It’s exciting to be performing in the Special Olympics.”

For many of the students, this will be a new experience. They have never performed for such a large audience, nor have many of them traveled out of state or to L.A. before.

“To travel with an amazing group of people like the Sparklers will be very interesting and fun,” Delley said.

However, the trip will not happen without the help of the staff and students in the fundraising efforts. That is why student council chose to donate a portion of the profits from the basketball game to their trip. To encourage community members to attend the eventy, student council will give away a new Xbox 1 to a random audience member.

“I think it’s a real honor for them to compete, and I think we, as a school, should do everything to help support them,” student council adviser David Womack said. “So it only made sense to use the student vs. faculty basketball game as a fundraiser.”

Womack said student council brainstormed ideas to get the community, band, High Hats and school board more involved and try to raise as much money as possible Thursday night.

“Our goal is to pack 2000 people in the arena for the faculty vs. student basketball game so we can raise the funds necessary for the Sparkler’s trip,” Womack said.

Thompson said she hopes that the school is able to help the Sparklers reach their goal so they can take Duncanville spirit to a world stage.

“The Sparklers love to cheer and perform for crowds and they are always excited to attend events,” Thompson said. “The amount of enthusiasm, spirit and love they have for cheering cannot be matched and is sometimes infectious.”

Gofundme account to help Sparklers go to Olympics:

Links to other stories: 

Dallas Morning News: Students with disabilities find school spirit

Full video story from DMN below

NBC News coverage:

Duncanville High School creates special ed cheer squad

Focus Daily News Story:
Sparklers cheerleaders pump up crowds despite disabilities