RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - While the VCU Rams men's basketball team defeated St. Bonaventure March 8, 86-67, VCU cheerleaders were making a young fan's dream come true.
Kessla Sipe, 19, is mildly mentally disabled and always loved cheerleading, according to her older sister Aspen.
"Whenever she goes to any sporting event involving cheerleaders, all she does is watch them and has probably seen every cheerleader movie ever made," Aspen, 24, said.
About a month before the St. Bonaventure game, Kessla started to communicate with the Rams cheerleaders via Facebook.
"We think she liked their Facebook page and she had been commenting and then one thing lead to another," Aspen said. "They sent her a 'shout out' video at a game. That's when we realized they were talking to her."
Aspen said her younger sister reached out to the cheer team for an "official cheerleader bow" and a couple of the girls on the team responded.
They invited Kessla to the game.
When she arrived at the Siegel Center, the cheerleaders took Kessla back to the dressing room.
She knew about the cheerleaders' gift, but did not tell her family because she wanted to surprise them.
"They did her hair and her make-up, they gave her a cheer uniform, pom poms, cheer shoes, a real VCU cheer bow and a shirt that all of the cheerleaders signed for her," Aspen said.
The cheerleaders' gesture nearly moved the Sipe family to tears as they saw Kessla living her dreams.
"She was so excited, even though she has a quiet way of showing it. She really felt special and a part of the team. Our parents were actually very emotional about it because we all know how much Kessla looks up to cheerleaders and how much she has always wanted to be one," Aspen said. "It was overwhelming to know how busy they are and still take the time out to make something like that happen for a girl who just admires them so much."
That night, Aspen added, will have an everlasting impact on her younger sister because it helped with her self-esteem and showed her anything is possible.
"It really gives me a new respect for VCU as well as the cheer team," Aspen said. "I can't believe they took that time out for a girl they only knew through Facebook and they really made her dream come true. She will remember this day forever and it was such an amazing experience."