BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Many little girls dream of cheerleading for their favorite professional sports team one day, but for one New Jersey girl, her wish has already come true.
The Jets gave an 8-year-old autistic girl from Bridgewater her big chance.
Jadyn Waiser was the first special needs member of the Jets Junior Flight Crew, the kids version of the team’s cheerleaders.
After weeks of practice, she performed at halftime in front of more than 80,000 fans at MetLife Stadium during the preseason Jets-Giants game last week.
“I started crying. I was so excited and proud of her,” Michelle Waiser told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
Jadyn was diagnosed with autism when she was 2 years old. She has limited verbal skills, a short attention span and it’s hit or miss on what may set her off.
“We’ve had meltdowns in the mall, we’ve had meltdowns at the library, anywhere and everywhere. And they still happen,” Waiser told Hsu.
Still, her parents said they take their chances and expose her to everything. Along with cheering on the Jets, Jadyn has lots of favorites, including swimming and ballet.
She had her first ballet recital just a few months ago.
Jadyn’s father said he hopes other parents of autistic children take a cue from them.
“If we can just get that word out to people that you shouldn’t shelter your child just because they have autism, experience life with them, show them they can do things,” Neil Waiser told Hsu.
Jenna McBride has been Jadyn’s helper for years. She was on the football field with Jadyn for the big show at MetLife and said the little girl has changed her life.
“She teaches me to look at other people in a different way. Before I met Jadyn, it was like black and white and now I see that there’s grey,” McBride said. “I was supposed to teach her and in the end she has taught me so much about life.”
The Jets Junior Flight Crew only performs at one preseason game, but Jadyn said she plans to hit the field again next year.
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