A Tyler cheerleading gymnasium will host an open house for parents of special needs children who are interested in joining the coed special needs cheerleading team Twisters Inspire.

The open house will be 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at GymTyler Gymnastics, 4598 Old Troup Highway.

Kim Johnson, GymTyler owner, said the gym started a special needs team in the fall to gauge the response from the community. The team learned a 2 1/2-minute routine and performed at a University of Texas at Tyler basketball game.

"We have been watching some of the big gyms in Austin as well as national teams do this for the last five years, and we wanted to see if this as something that Tyler was interested in," she said.

Ms. Johnson said the team was successful and the gym began fundraising to help cut the costs for their spring team.

"Competitive cheer is very expensive," Ms. Johnson said. "We've been raising money so students won't be out considerable amounts of money."

She said they raised enough money to provide uniforms for 15 students. The uniforms usually run about $200. Parents will have a small fee, about $15 a month, to participate, Ms. Johnson said.

The students will be taught a short routine while parents receive information Sunday.

The students in the team will practice every other Sunday for about an hour and go along with the other competitive cheer teams to competitions in Dallas.

The team will not compete but will perform at the competitions. Ms. Johnson said Twisters Inspire also will perform at various community and sporting events.

Parents will be responsible for driving their children to the competitions, she said. The first competition is Nov. 15 and 16, but most exciting competition is on Dec. 7.

"The Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are there," Ms. Johnson said. "Last year my 5- and 6-year-old (group) thought it was amazing, I think it is going to be such a special thing for these kids to get to do that."

The gym has an account set up at Prosperity Bank under Twisters Inspire for anyone wishing to help more students with uniform costs. Contributions are tax-deductible, Ms. Johnson said.


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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.