Nov. 12 marked the second annual MVC Special Stars event, where 44 young women joined the MVC for an evening of fun, dancing and friendship.
As each young woman entered Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, she was greeted by the MVC cheering them on as she ran across the field, just like the players do on game day.
The MVC Special Stars program allows any dancer, cheerleader or young woman with a disability to participate in a cheer clinic with the MVC, and each participant is paired with an MVC Big Sis for the night.
I was paired with Julia, 24, who is a second-year Special Stars veteran. Julia has so much spirit; she spoke about her family, job and previous cheerleading experience. We talked about Vikings players, Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, NFL quarterbacks and her favorite player: Stefon Diggs. Julia has a passion for both dance and football, so this event was the perfect intersection of the two. She taught me about different running and passing plays, provided analysis, demonstrations, and answered any questions I had – and this was all before the night had officially kicked off.
Following introductions, we got right to work learning a cheer and a brand-new routine choreographed and taught by MVCs Andrea and Sydney. The Special Stars were blown away that the MVC had created a routine just for them. The dance was filled with lots of jumping, clapping and cheering, and the energy in the room was tangible.
During our break, we discussed the three ideals of being an MVC: confidence, hard work and leadership. Reflection is an important part of every MVC program, and this gave the MVC and Special Stars a chance to connect more deeply.
The Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders hosted girls and women with special needs or challenges for the second annual "Special Stars" cheerleading workshop at TCO Performance Center.
Once the routine was all set, we welcomed the parents back in for our final performance. With smiles all around, we danced our hearts out.
At the end of the night, each participant was awarded a medal and certificate to commemorate the night. I asked Julia about her experience, and this is what she told me:
"You have extended a very warm welcome to us. It means the world just to have all 33 of you open this practice facility. For me, Minnesota Vikings has a whole new meaning."
She thanked our trainer, Brittany Fedor, for her support as well.
"I loved it, every minute," said Julia.
It was a special night and a true honor to spend time with these young women.
– MVC Rookie Sam