Hudson -- Hudson High School cheerleaders are looking for ways to become more involved in the community.
Along with Hudson Hawk cheerleaders and Kent State University cheerleaders, the HHS cheerleaders encouraged the Special Olympics team Aug. 10 during the 8th annual Hudson Challenger Football Game.
"It motivates me when I see I can help in Hudson like at the Challenger game, and it make me very happy," said Johanne Egeland, 16, HHS varsity cheerleader.
Now instead of just cheering, the Hudson High School cheerleaders will be playing in a softball game Aug. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Zuber Field at Elmwood Park at 6363 Selig Drive in Independence against members of ICAN or Independence Community Adapted Network, a recreational program for people 10 and older with special needs.
HHS cheerleaders trying their skills on the baseball diamond include Johanne Egeland, Molly Morris, Hannah Copperman, Julia Sweterlitsch, Morgan Padgett, Brooke Zubal, Gabrielle Gedeon, Allie Factor, Lindsey Buehl and Helsey Tetmeyer.
The idea for a baseball game began with Egeland, a HHS senior. She is a special needs cheer coach and gymnastics coach at Gymnastics World and plans to earn a degree in special education and to be a legal advocate for special needs individuals.
"When I first moved to Hudson, I met friends with people who helped special needs kids during lunch time," Johanne said. "I got involved as a gymnast at my gym and began coaching special needs."
Parents at the gym told Johanne about the ICAN program and invited her to help.
"The parents encouraged her to coach at the ICAN program," said her mother Sharon Egeland. "She has helped for about a year."
The kids love interaction with new people and Johanne said she thought it would be a great idea to challenge them to a game with cheerleaders during their softball season.
"Some of the kids are better than me at baseball," Johanne said. "It takes time to get the hang of it to see the ball and catch it."
Johanne said she doesn't know the level of baseball skill among the cheerleaders so anything could happen. She hopes Hudson residents will come out and cheer on the cheerleaders.
"Parents are so grateful people take the time to work with their children, and it creates a great bond," Johanne said.
Anyone interested in working with special needs people, should just do it, Johanne said.
To volunteer or for more information about ICAN, contact Valerie Troiano at email@example.com.
Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing