Gym Tyler welcomes special needs cheer team -, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Gym Tyler welcomes special needs cheer team

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As the clock ticks down, Ava Penkilo can't wait for the scoreboard to hit zero.

Halftime is Ava's time to shine.

"Practice, practice," said Ava, with so much excitement she could hardly contain it.

For Ava and many other special needs children, it doesn't get any bigger than performing at halftime of the UT Tyler women's basketball game.

"Warms my heart," said Kim Johnson.  "Brings tears to your eyes."

Kim Johnson, the owner of Gym Tyler, joined with UT Tyler, to hold a special needs cheer clinic last Sunday. 15 girls signed up, and had the chance to show off their moves Thursday night.

Thanks to a surprising response, the Gym Tyler Twisters will begin coaching a competitive special needs cheer team next fall.

"Just to see the smile on their faces that they have something they can come out and do feel like they are part of a team," said Gym Tyler coach Tara McHam.   "And get something accomplished.

An opportunity McHam wants for her 3 year old daughter Karter.

"This is something for Karter to look forward to and grow into and have an activity to do," said McHam.

"There's nothing like this in Tyler," said Johnson.  "So we didn't even know what kind of response we'd get or what how many needs there were for it. We've had a huge response.

A smile, all the response needed. 

Ava's first dance, doesn't have to be her last.

Click here for more information on Gym Tyler Gymnastics.

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