Fraternity helps teen live out her high school cheerleading dream


Maddie teaches Pi Kappa Phi JP Hajjar some of her cheerleading moves.

By Kennedy Harvey

Support from a TCU fraternity will help a teenager with Down Syndrome live out her dream of cheerleading at the high school level.

Members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity organized a barbecue to help Maddie Thompson, 14, cover the fees associated with cheering at her high school.

Maddie learned earlier this month she had made the freshmen cheerleading squad.

“My family felt so blessed that this fraternity would take this on and help Madison achieve her dreams,” said Shannon Thompson, Maddie’s mom. “These young men were so sweet and caring and really showed Madison how much they cared for her. It just made my heart so happy.”

Many people came to show their support and meet Maddie, whose public journey has caught a lot of attention on social media.

Maddie started cheering with she was four, but she didn’t make the team when she tried out in middle school.

“She didn’t let her not making the team define her,” said Cami Branson, a TCU cheerleader and close friend of Maddie’s. “Some people would have handled the situation differently, but Maddie stayed determined and positive through it all. She matured into an even stronger young woman, and continued to change the perspectives and lives of others.”

Maddie’s parents said they were disappointed in how tryouts were structured to compare her against the competition rather than on a score sheet.

They shared Maddie’s story in hopes of attracting more special needs cheerleading programs to the area, but the outcome has been much more than what they expected.

“In the last two years we were able to change the way a school district looked at a special needs athlete and for that, we are so proud,” Thompson, said. “I feel like we are slowly showing others to look at their abilities rather than their disabilities.”

She made it !!!! Congratulations to all the rowlett highschool cheerleaders

A post shared by Madison Thompson (@cheerathletics_madison) on


(Photos by Nathan Lowe.)

A GoFundMe page was started on Maddie’s behalf before Pi Kap contacted Branson.

“I am in awe of how much love and support she has received from the Horned Frog community,” Branson said. “It was so amazing to see TCU coaches, athletes, teams and so many other organizations get involved.”

The barbeque fundraiser proved to be successful as it exceeded the $2,000 goal.

“With TCU being such a close family and community, I was not surprised that we reached the goal,” Branson said. “It is nearly impossible to not fall in love with Maddie or her story. It truly shows how much of an impact this 14-year-old girl can have on people’s lives.”