Maya Thompson, a local 10-year-old, performed with the Shippensburg University cheerleaders at the Homecoming football game on Saturday.
Maya was drafted onto the SU cheer team by Team IMPACT, an organization that matches children facing serious illnesses and disabilities with college teams. According to their website, Team IMPACT fosters “long-term, life-changing experiences for everyone involved.” Maya has been receiving chemotherapy to treat a lymphatic malformation, Martina Thompson, Maya’s mother, said.
During the game, Maya followed the SU routines alongside junior Caitlin Delaney. She stood next to Delaney during cheers, performed cartwheels and back bends and was top of the pyramid for a few stunts.
Maya has been cheering since she was six years old and has been with the SU cheerleading team for a year. “She is really great, and we are happy to have her,” Crystal Collier-Walker, head coach of SU cheerleading, said. When she was drafted onto the team, Collier-Walker said she was sent videos of the SU routines so she can practice from home. Now, Maya performs with the SU cheerleaders at as many events as possible, including games and pep rallies.
“She cannot wait to be an SU cheerleader. They all inspire her,” Martina Thompson said.