SALEM, Ore. — Lora Harrington has wanted to be a cheerleader for as long as she can remember.
Growing up, Harrington cheered at her uncles’ and sisters’ sports games, dressing up in cheer outfits and chanting her support.
“Ever since I was a baby, I’ve been yelling,” she said.
But when Harrington, 14, started her freshman year at West Salem High School and wanted to try out for the cheer team, her mother prepared for the worst.
Harrington has Down syndrome. Her mother, Cory Wingett, said Harrington has been consistently left out of birthday parties and other group activities.
Wingett worried that trying out for the junior varsity cheer team would be one more example of exclusion.
To her surprise, the coaches and teammates actively worked to make sure Harrington was supported from day one.
For once, it hasn’t been a struggle to be included. She is finally being accepted and loved for who she is. The …