Young DeForest woman with autism to compete in elite cheerleading competitions

Coach: 'She just wants to do the best she can. It's just in her nature.'

DEFOREST, Wis. — In a world where many might tell her she can’t, a young woman from DeForest is proving she can.

A lifetime of hurdles, challenges and perseverance is catapulting Sierra Farris into two elite cheerleading competitions.

“She just wants to do the best she can,” her trainer David “Corn” Walden said. “It’s just in her nature.”

Farris got a taste of cheerleading around seven years ago through a program for athletes with special needs called Sparkle Cheer at Janesville Craig High School.

“She talked about it, watched it on TV, found it on YouTube… wanted to learn more and more and get better and better. And she had never really had anything before that really sparked her attention like that before,” Farris’ mom Trisha Collins said.

At first, Farris, who has autism, couldn’t even do a forward roll. Through her determination and the help of Coach Corn, she excelled.

“Repetition is the major thing that we have to do because that’s how we get into the brain,” he said.

Farris now competes at an elite level and has the hardware to prove it.

“It’s special because I think, you know, her whole life, it’s always kind of been worried about like, where will she fit in? What will she be able to do? Because I think you hear your whole life about the limitations, but you never hear about the, you know, the exceptions,” Collins said.

Because of Farris’ drive, skill and love for the sport, she has been selected to compete on the unified Team USA in the U.S. Cheer Finals in Orlando this month. Two days later, she will compete in the Cheerabilities Allstar World Championship with her team, Green Bay Fusion. They’re the team to beat.

“(It) definitely can bring a tear to my eye at times,” Collins said. “… The most recent competition was a very large one, and hearing thousands of people that do not know my child or any of the other children on the team, just the whole arena was in a roar screaming for all of our kids, and knowing that, you know, five years ago she couldn’t even do a somersault.”