Athletes stand up to bullies for cheerleader with Down syndrome

Desiree Andrews
(Courtesy: Associated Press)

KENOSHA, Wis. (WKRN) – When members of a middle school basketball team saw bullies taunting Desiree Andrews, a 14-year-old cheerleader with Down syndrome, they decided to take action.

“They were pointing and laughing at her from the stands,” says Miles Rodriguez, a basketball player at Lincoln Middle School in Wisconsin told ABC News. “It’s not funny to make fun of somebody by the way they look or act.”

The team didn’t think twice before walking off the court in protest.

Lincoln Middle School basketball team
Courtesy: ABC News

“You have these kids that were picking on her and it came to the attention of the team,” said Timothy Nieman, the school’s athletic director. “The team as a whole has something to say about it. They came out and said, ‘Hey, she is here to support us. You guys need to cut it out.'”

The students then took Desiree under their wing, naming the school gym “D’s House” after the teen.

“She was happy that we had her side and that we had her back,” said one of the players, Scooter Terrien. “You can tell she was happy because she never took the smile off her face.”

The logo for “D’s House” has taken off and plastered onto T-shirts and other promotional materials.

“People will say that kids look up to teachers,” Nieman said. “Well, I think in this case that many teachers are looking up to them.”

Members of the Lincoln Knights basketball team said they’ll work toward eliminating bullying in their school in the future.

“This is not a one-time thing,” said player Harice Hodges. “You always have to stick up for kids that are bullied. It’s the right thing to do.”

ABC News reached out to Desiree Andrews via Lincoln Middle School, but she had been absent from her classes.

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