Local cheerleaders entertain crowds in Thanksgiving Day parade at Walt Disney World

ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) Several Permian Basin cheerleaders were chosen to spend their Thanksgiving spreading cheer at The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Varsity Spirit is an organization that trains hundreds of thousands of cheerleaders and dancers at camps across the United States. Athletes who are a part of the organization’s camps can compete for special opportunities. The organization also sells apparel.

Nimitz Middle School cheerleader, Demri Balerio, was chosen as one of just several hundred cheerleaders and dancers from across the nation to perform in the 2019 Thanksgiving Tour at the resort.

“This is my first year doing school cheer, but I’ve been dancing since I was four,” she said over a Facetime interview.

Hard work mixed with passion has left Balerio a strong competitor among many long-time cheerleaders.

“I was one of the ones that was brand new to everything, but I just tried to keep a positive attitude through everything and just hoped for the best… They explained it to me. I thought, ‘oh it’s kind of cool but I don’t think I would get it.Then when I got to, I thought ‘ohmygosh this is so cool I get to do this,” she said.

Balerio was the only cheerleader chosen from Nimitz Middle School, and one of around seven chosen from the Permian Basin, to cheer in the parade at The Walt Disney World Resort. It’s a big honor, because only the top ten percent of cheerleaders at varsity spirit camps nationwide, from elementary to high school, earn the honor to march in such a momentous parade, according to Varsity Spirit.

“Go Demri!” was yelled by a loved one as the cheerleader passed by in the parade Thursday afternoon. Balerio said the whole experience leaves her thankful and proud of the community she represents.

“I’m so very honored that I got to come. And I’m representing not only my school, but Odessa and Texas!” she said.

In front of thousands of people, the middle school student shared her uplifting spirit, contagious smile, and bubbly attitude with park-goers while cheering along to “I just can’t wait to be king” from the Lion King Movie.

“I think it gives you an exciting thrill. Like, you’re there and you just uplift everybody’s spirits that’s kind of what a cheerleader does. She’s always happy and fun. And when you do that, and see other people smile, it kind of makes your day,” she said.

And like many Disney movies, Balerio came away with a few more friends than she had before. Balerio made new friends who live across Texas, and said she got to know the few others representing West Texas a little better.

“It’s fun that, like, you get to see people from other states. But when you know they’re from Odessa, it’s like OMG this is so cool. And, like, from Midland, you think it’s so cool that, like, you never see each other but due to this experience, like, you get to know them,” she said.

Balerio said cheering on her team in West Texas helped her prepare for performing in front of a big crowd. Because football games in the Permian Basin, are usually well-attended by our community.