BUTTE — Medical journals may list Down Syndrome as a disability, but for those who know Hanna — a very special Butte cheerleader — they’d say it’s a gift.
“It’s not a disability, it’s an ability. I think we should all have Down Syndrome. Seriously, the love that she can give to somebody is amazing. I mean, if we all looked at the world like somebody with Down Syndrome it would be an amazing place,” said Hanna’s mother Dolly DeMessemaker.
Hanna's cheer coach has seen her develop since she joined the cheer team as a freshman.
“She’s amazing, I mean, she’s incredible. She’s taught more to this team than that the team could ever teach her,” said her Cheer Coach Holly Carpenter.
Along with cheering on her high school sports programs, Hanna was recently voted by her classmates to be on the school’s homecoming court. Hanna credits her coach for helping her.
Her fellow cheerleaders love the spirit she brings to their team.
“She’s awesome. She always got the best energy out of everybody, even me,” said the Cheer Captain Xana Skocilich.
Coach Carpenter’s goal has always wanted to make the cheer team more inclusive, and Hanna has proven it can work.
“You know, it’s a good thing for all the kids to learn and I hope that another kid, or several kids, with special needs decides they want to be cheerleaders. I hope that she inspires them,” said Carpenter.
Her coaches and teammates will miss her after she graduates this year.
“She can tell how somebody’s feeling just by the expression on their face. When you get a hug from her it’s a genuine hug, it’s not like just a hug, it’s like it means something,” said DeMessemaker.
Hanna will represent the Homecoming court Friday, Sept. 23 during halftime of the Bulldogs varsity football game.