Sequoia High School Cheerleaders and Wheelchair Cheering

Cheerleader with Spina Bifida Shows Team Spirit from Her Wheelchair

Sequoia High School in Redwood, CA has a group of cheerleaders that certainly gets the fans’ attention, thanks in part to an addition to the team that exemplifies school spirit. Angel Gonzalez-Prado is the newest team member. What’s different about Angel is she has spina bifida and cheers from her wheelchair.

California Wheelchair Cheerleader Cheering

There has never been a cheerleader in a wheelchair at Sequoia High School, and the United Spirit Association, which handles the competitions at the state and national level, had never seen one either. Angel didn’t let that stop her from trying out–and making–the squad this year.

Angel has spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spine doesn’t form properly around the spinal cord. She has had more than 15 surgeries to correct the defect, which has left her legs paralyzed. Despite her disability, Angel does all of the upper body and arm movements right along with the squad.

Wheelchair Cheerleading

The team’s coach, Stacey Morell, was approached by one of Angel’s friends at the beginning of the year. She was excited to have Angel audition, and noted her bubbly and outgoing personality right off the bat. Morell had to contact the United Spirit Association to find out how to accommodate Angel for competitions, and she was shocked to learn that there had never been a cheerleader in a wheelchair previously.

Cheerleader Using Wheelchair

The association contacted two other national cheerleading associations, and together the three developed rules for competition based on existing rules for cheerleaders with leg braces. For example, the chair must be padded and stationary during competitions for safety reasons.

“I’m still learning how to modify for Angel,” Morell said, “but I want everyone to experience cheerleading. Anyone who has a desire should go for it.”

Cheerleader in Wheelchair

Angel’s spina bifida surgeon at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Dr. Lawrence Rinsky agreed. “The best rehab for her has been going out for cheer,” he said. “She’s such an inspired, motivated young woman.”

Her fan base has grown exponentially, thanks in part to her cousins posting photos of her on social media sites. In addition to cheerleading, Angel stays busy with Girl Scouts, a club for young entrepreneurs and a math-tutoring program at Stanford. She hasn’t gotten used to the attention cheerleading has brought her.

Redwood California High School Cheerleader with Wheelchair

“It’s nerve-racking when everyone’s staring at you,” she said. “They say, ‘There’s a girl in a wheelchair!’ There are a lot of big eyes and shocked faces.”

Angel is becoming a terrific role model. This year the squad participated in Redwood’s 4th of July parade, and a little girl in a wheelchair spotted her and pointed her out to others in the crowd. Each year, the girls on the team have to list who they most respect in a written survey used to choose the cheer captains.

“This year,” Morell said, “a lot of the girls wrote ‘Angel.'”


Image source:

6 thoughts on “Cheerleader with Spina Bifida Shows Team Spirit from Her Wheelchair


    My daughter is 14 and also has spina bifida and in a wheelchair. This year is her freshman yr in high school and has made the varsity cheer leading squad. There isn’t stopping her, fridynight was her first game and loved every minute of it.

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Dieter! We’re sure Angel’s mom is incredibly proud of her daughter! What parent wouldn’t be when a child accomplishes great things? Thanks for reading our blog!

  2.'melissa goff

    I am, melissa goff and I have spina bifida and first time i cheeredi s when I was 7 years old and now I am 24 and I drive a truck and independent and work

    1. Susan Hawkins

      Hi, Melissa! That’s awesome! We love to hear about how our readers get out and enjoy life, and today, you’ve given us something to cheer about! Thanks for following our blog!

Comments are closed.