STERLING – Tyler Johnson truly has spirit.
It’s fitting, then, that he recently was honored with the Superstar of Spirit award from The Sparkle Effect, a nonprofit organization that promotes the inclusion of students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs.
Johnson, 18, who has Down syndrome, cheers for the Newman Central Catholic High School Shooting Stars. He has been a part of the squad since its start in 2009.
“He knows no stranger,” said his coach, Susie LeMay. “He doesn’t quit. He has an incredible spirit.”
The Superstars of Spirit awards program aims to recognize and honor individual Sparkle Effect cheer and dance team members of all abilities for their contributions to their squad and community and for their exemplary leadership in challenging social boundaries and promoting inclusion.
Johnson embodies the award. He is a leader and a recognizable, friendly face in the community.
“When he’s cheering, it just pours out of him,” LeMay said.
The award carries with it a $1,000 cash prize and a feature on the Facebook page for The Sparkle Effect.
The Shooting Stars of Newman, among the first Sparkle Effect squads created, last year won the first Sparkle Effect Spotlight award.