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A smile is worth a thousand words

Utah Caring Stories

(ABC4 NEWS – Centerville, UT) It’s early in the morning at Viemont High School.  I check in at the principal’s office. No, I’m not in trouble.  Leona Cooper is kind enough to meet me and walk me to the small gym to meet her daughter, Sydney.

The room is buzzing with excitement as Sydney introduce me to her teammates on the cheerleading squad.  Her coach, Becka Erikson, counts off: “5-6-7-8” as the girls work together and create quite the formation, with Sydney as one of three girls lifted high above the gym floor. The group then did the signature “heart sign” of the Utah Caring Stories, complete with pom-poms. 

Sydney is a junior at Viemont High School. She was born with Downs Syndrome. Erin McQuivey, a speech language pathologist at Primary Children’s Hospital explains; “It means they are just like anyone else but that they have this special extra chromosome. Different isn’t a bad thing. It just means that they have special abilities and different abilities than others, but those abilities have value as well.”

Sydney’s family and friends admire those abilities. I was honored to meet the Cooper family and their home. Sydney taught me some cheers and fancy pom-pom action that left me a little winded.  Her Mother, Leona, got emotional as she answered what her favorite thing about Sydney is; “How brave she is. She is always willing to try things. She has performed in front of people she doesn’t know. She is never afraid to do something new.”

Sydney also loves to sing. She treats me and her family to a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.  It wasn’t lost on me when Sydney strongly sang those emotional words, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the Brave” that her Mom was right. Sydney is truly a brave young woman with a smile that will light up a room.

These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.

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