STAFFORD, NJ – “Star” is the special needs team from our local cheerleading organization, Stafford Sparklers. They are “one of the only competition cheer teams in New Jersey that cater to special needs, at any age.”

This past Sunday at the Southern Rams Annual Cheerleading Invitational, “Star” closed the day with their always wonderful and heart-felt performance. After they performed, they received a standing ovation from the entire gym. The "Star" team truly sparkles when they perform. They make you feel really proud to be there in that moment watching them do something they love.

During the awards ceremony, teams were announced for the different places won in each division. The big award at cheerleading competitions is the title of Grand Champion and is awarded to the team with the highest score of the competition. The Barnegat Bengals varsity squad was announced Grand Champion for the competition, but what they did after receiving that was truly amazing.

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Once the ceremony finished and teams were taking pictures, the Barnegat cheerleaders walked over to the “Star” team and handed them their Grand Champion trophy. They told them that “they deserved it and were the real Grand Champions of the day.” Barnegat’s head coach, Shannon Smith said, “It was all the girls’ idea.”

Coach Smith also added, “We are truly proud of the Star team and they deserve grand champions for more than just the performance they put out on the mat! For the courage, the determination, the hard work and extra mile they go every single day to succeed and the pure pride you see in their faces when they perform. I tell my girls all the time that THESE are the things that matter - not the number of championships won but the life lessons cheerleading has taught us and being a good person. We certainly did not do this for any sort of recognition but rather to make those sweet girls day and let them know that we look up to them and in our hearts they are the true champions.”

They sure did make their day, as well as so many of ours. This exemplary act of kindness that they demonstrated on Sunday, is something the “Star" team and their parents will get to cherish for a very long time. 

The Sparklers’ Co-President, Laureen Gonnella was in awe of what the Bengals did. She said, “I commend those girls, their coach and their parents for teaching them to be amazing young woman. Our STAR team girls have to work twice as hard to achieve what they do on the mats and they make me proud every time they step out there.”

This Friday night you can catch the "Star" team and all of the other Stafford Sparklers perform for their Annual Exhibition in the 11/12 gym at Southern Regional. Doors open at 6:45pm.

The Stafford Sparklers organization provides the “Star” team with great consideration and passion when teaching them the basic techniques of cheerleading, according to their own specific abilities. They get to learn and work alongside cheerleaders from the “Elite” team, as well as hand-picked demonstrators who will guide them. This team builds confidence and teamwork throughout the year and has a lot of fun doing it!

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