Keith Myers / The Kansas City Star
'I feel awesome.' Allyssa Brubeck, who has Down syndrome, got a hug from varsity cheeleader Emma Woodson after being elected Homecoming Queen.
What do you know, another cheerleader has been crowned homecoming queen. Except 19-year-old Allyssa Brubeck isn’t just your typical popular teen, she also has Down syndrome. While her coronation is reason enough to celebrate, what may be the most touching of all is her classmates’ reactions to all the fuss surrounding their new royalty. They just don’t understand what the big deal is. Who cares that she has Down syndrome? She’s just Allyssa, a happy, friendly cheerleader.
As The Kansas City Star reports, the student newspaper journalists didn’t even think to mention her disability when writing the story of the Homecoming election results. Their adult supervisor had to convince them that it was worth noting. During her four years at Park Hill South High School in Kansas City, Mo., Allyssa has become an active member of the student body and a teen who seemingly has a hug and a smile for everyone. When the school district posted the story on its Facebook page, the kids couldn’t believe the amount of attention the story got.
“Everyone in the stands was crying,” 18-year-old classmate Leah Smith told The Star. “Everyone loves her.”
“She deserved to be homecoming queen,” said Sam Boling, 17, who was a runner-up for queen.
While the teens at Park Hill South High School are taking this all in stride, adults are much more impressed with this year’s queen – and what it says about her fellow students. We can all hope that this is a sign that kids with disabilities are one step closer to being accepted as just another kid.
“They’re growing up together,” Amy Allison, executive director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City, told The Kansas City Star. Disabilities among classmates “are negligible to kids. They see the challenges they face, but they see they are happy and they want to help.”
Allyssa’s mother, Cindy Small, was touched by the support for her daughter, whom she describes as fearless. She told the Kansas City Star that Allyssa had always kept up with her younger sister, 17-year-old Annabelle; whether it was biking, golf or swimming. When Alyssa decided she wanted to be a cheerleader, she went for it. And got it.
As for Allyssa, like any teen girl, she’s just thrilled to be her school’s Homecoming Queen. “I’m a winner,” Allyssa told The Star. “I feel awesome.”
Dana Macario is a Seattle area mom who’s incredibly impressed with Allyssa and her classmates.