Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pennsylvanian with Down syndrome motivates her high school as cheerleader

From The Daily Record:

YORK, Pa. - Amber Delp (pictured) doesn't need a cheerleading uniform to motivate others. She does it simply by being her enthusiastic self.

The 20-year-old has Down syndrome and is a cheerleader for the Central York High School varsity boys' basketball team.

The 4-foot, 4-inch, 80-pound senior started her cheerleading career recently with the team. Monday was her third game. "She's the star of the show," said Jacki Belker, 17.

"She's really sincere. I've never once seen her bring anyone down," said sophomore Korissa Herrold, 15.

Beth Oster, her mother, said Amber has dreams and aspirations just like anyone else.

"She wants to get married. She has a boyfriend."

When Amber was younger, she watched her older sister during cheerleading practice, and that sparked her interest, Oster said.

When she practices with teammates, Amber's enthusiasm is evident. Coach Cathy Trimmer says Amber brings enthusiasm and spirit to the team. "She runs down the hall to get here," Trimmer said.

Knowing that she brings joy to others "makes me feel very happy and excited," Amber said.

Still, she said, she's scared when her sneakers touch the hardwood. "There's a lot of people here," she said.

Before Amber was born, routine prenatal tests showed no abnormalities, Oster said. After she was born, however, doctors suspected she had Down syndrome.

Oster said she was scared. "All of your dreams for your normal child were thrown out the window," she said. " . . I mourned. I mourned her."

Someone told her Amber would never walk or talk. She was even asked in the hospital if she planned to take Amber home with her.

"I was very upset," she recalled. "This is my child."

Oster admits she didn't know much about the condition. "I think they (the hospital staff) knew even less than I did, to be honest," she said.

Educating herself and getting help from government and social agencies helped, she said.

While Amber has talked of going to college and working, Oster told her to concentrate on the present. Amber is enrolled in life skills support classes at Central York. Her mom said she has talked about work at a music store because she likes music.

What dreams does Oster have for her daughter?

"I just want her to be happy," she said.