Firecrackers spark fun, friendship and cheers - News, Weather & Sports

Firecrackers spark fun, friendship and cheers

Ainsley Ainsley
Zeke Zeke
P.J. P.J.
Olivia Olivia
Coach Lauren Coach Lauren

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A tight bond between two groups of friends took center stage Friday night as Bullitt East hosted Collins, but the game took a backseat to a group of kids who scored both respect and plenty of fans.

At the Louisville Kids Center for Pediatric Therapies an important rehearsal was underway. "I'm very excited," said 8-year-old Olivia Ralston.

Olivia and her friends were warming up for their biggest cheer show of the year. They are the Firecrackers and boy are they ever! "This girl is on fire," sang Olivia as she belted out the popular song.

Her 7-year-old friend Ainsley Ogg stopped our interview about cheerleaders to ask this, "Can I sing a song too? "

Ainsley and her BFF Olivia know how to impress. The Firecrackers, who primarily have physical limitations from Cerebral Palsy live by their ability not disability. Team member Zeke Bethel, 6, said of any doubters, "They just don't get it!"

Cheering is their best medicine. "When you learn," Ainsley explained of her stretching, "it's so good."

Her mother Janie Ogg said, "To them, it's not 'Oh, I'm in a wheelchair or a walker I can't do that,'" she said, "It's a way for them to interact and have fun with everybody else."

A few years ago, the Firecrackers sparked a friendship with the Bullitt East High Cheer team at Jam Fest, it was love at first go, fight win. Olivia said of her high school friends, "They're so passionate and it's very cool to hang out with a bunch of kids that are so passionate."

"We just fell in love with them," explained Lauren Vincent of the Firecrackers, "We watched them perform and we decided we wanted to invite them to come cheer a game with us." Vincent is a former Bullitt East cheerleader who now helps coach the Firecrackers in their physical therapy.

Zeke's twin P.J. said of Coach Lauren, "She teaches us the moves!"

This night, the Firecrackers take those moves to Mount Washington to cheer with the Chargers at the big game.  Bullitt East senior cheerleader Sydney Bright said, "Having people cheer for you, you're just like wow, I just did that," she said, "so for them (the Firecrackers) I think it's going to be awesome to have the whole crowd cheering for them."

And with proud parents watching, it was showtime for the young squad at halftime.

Coach Lauren was proud of their effort, "The entire crowd was on their feet cheering for them after it was over and it was just the best moment ever."

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