A local cheerleader is using her sport as a way to recover from a debilitating accident. Katie Johnson was in a vehicle struck by a farm truck, causing her to suffer a broken back and lacerations of her small intestine. At nine years old she spent a month in the hospital and another week after complications when she came home. She had to use a wheelchair and turned to homeschool. Now 14-year-old Katie attends Walton Middle School and has turned tumbling into cheerleading and wants to go into competition.
Cheerleading has become a sport in its own right. Locally American Cheer Athletics has opened and works much like a gymnastics or tumbling center. This can lead youth to competition levels in the sport. Modern cheerleading requires cross training and the participants can actually be more fit than the athletes they are cheering for. While cheering used to be just a form of dance and rahrah, the modern form uses gymnastics, tumbling and much more.
Katie has back pain and still needs metal pins to help support her back. Mom Linda Johnson, a health instructor, says the cheerleading has proven to be a way for Katie to build up her body, but is especially glad of the self esteem she is developing. Katie’s mom says her daughter has taken a tragic situation and even with more medical needs planned for the future, she has not let it stop her from continuing with sports.
Katie says she like softball and was active in sports before the accident, but the gymnastics and now cheerleading has given her a chance to continue in athletics. She says she started in gymnastics and cheerleading because of friends in school and made it. She has now taken it up a level.
Katie also wants to continue with athletics as she continues her education. She would like to go into sports medicine, possibly becoming a doctor or orthopedic that works with other youth and adults with injuries.
Katie says she needs to raise about $400 by the middle of this month and a total of $1100 by the end of the year. The money is to help buy the uniforms, shoes and equipment plus pay for the training she needs. Her hope is to not just cheer, but to advance to a competition level, representing the area. If you want to help or have a business that would like to sponsor her an account has been set up at Army Aviation Center Federal Credit Union. You can also contact her through the station.