WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A mother and daughter have taken their passion for cheerleading all the way to “Worlds” in two different international competitions.
“It is hard for people to grasp how amazing of an experience this is. This is being on stage and competing with the best of the best in cheerleading from around the world,” said cheer coach Kelly Roule, adding it’s every cheerleader’s dream to make it that far.
Roule and her daughter Allie, have brought their skills of coaching Special Olympics cheer to Middle Tennessee from Illinois.
Allie started cheering when she was five, said Roule. “Our whole family had always volunteered and been a part of Special Olympics, so when Allie was ten, and we were at a competition in Atlanta and saw a special needs team competing, we knew we had to coach a team.”
They started the Illinois Wildcats team in the west suburbs of Chicago 15 years ago. “That team is still together, some from the very beginning and most who have been on the team over 12 years,” said Roule.
The Illinois Wildcats were chosen as the USA National Team in the first ever Special Olympics Division in 2019 and again in 2022.
Working with those with disabilities has always been Allie’s passion, said Roule. Allie graduated from University of Mississippi in 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education. She moved to the Nashville area after that, with Roule and her husband also relocating the next year.
“Allie wants to start her own program here in Tennessee, so we thought a great way to start would be to combine Illinois and Tennessee athletes, and we were lucky enough to be selected to represent the U.S. at the ICU World in 2023 in the Special Olympics Hip Hop Division,” said Roule.
Both are excited about the opportunity eight athletes from Williamson County will get to experience at the International Cheer Union World competition next month in Florida, and three who will be competing at Special Olympics World games in Berlin in June.
“Once she moved here she really wanted to give the kids here some of the amazing opportunities our Illinois kids got to experience.” Roule said. Allie ultimately hopes to have a gym and program to provide cheerleading and performance cheerleading for athletes with disabilities of all ages and levels.
Meanwhile, the mother daughter duo hope to raise funds to help offset the travel expenses for the athletes and their families.
“Being able to represent the U.S. is an incredible experience. We are so proud of the commitment and hard work all these athlete put in!” exclaimed Roule.
Seven of the athletes attend Ravenwood High School and the other goes to Nolensville High School.
Check out this photo gallery to meet the U.S. National Special Olympics Traditional Hip Hop Team!
For anyone interested in contributing to their fundraiser, click on this link.
They will also be hosting a barbecue fundraiser with Charcoal Cowboys later this month. Roule said people can begin placing orders March 6th and pick them up on March 25th.
And Roule welcomes people to follow along their team’s journey on Instagram at @tn_wildcatsallstarcheer.