It was a bullying story with a happy ending, but now that the story has gone viral it has turned into something else.
The Kenosha News’ video on the story is being viewed an average of 10,000 times an hour. ABC news, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and media outlets from around the world have come calling about Desiree Andrews.
“I’ve had talk shows leave messages so it’s pretty overwhelming,” her father Cliff Andrews said. “Other than my phone ringing nonstop it’s OK. It’s taken off quite a bit.”
Desiree Andrews, 14, is an 8th grade cheerleader with Down syndrome at Lincoln Middle School. Last season, she was the target of derogatory comments, faces and bullying coming from some students in the home bleachers during a basketball game.
What happened next is what has the world calling.
In a real sports hero moment, members of the Knights basketball team Miles Rodriguez, Scooter Terrien and Chase Vazquez left the floor during a timeout to tell the bullies to knock it off. When it happened her father was angry and Desiree knew it.
“She saw that I was upset,” Andrews said. “She threw her hands around me and made me look at her face and said, ‘Papa, it’s OK. I still love them even if they don’t like me.’”
Lincoln has since renamed Lincoln’s gym “D’s House” in her honor, and the students wear T-shirts with a “D’s House” logo to celebrate her inclusion.
It still surprises Andrews how the brave girl who loves everyone could face this with such grace time after time. And while some in the world have chosen to be cruel, right now the world is calling to celebrate the team with the right attitude.
On Saturday, Desiree and her Lincoln Middle School Knights are invited to a black tie event in Illinois with a Down syndrome association to celebrate the kids’ effort to stop the bigotry.
While the opportunity for Down syndrome awareness is here for Andrews, he reiterated the story is the boys standing up against the bullies.
“My concern is putting Desiree out there and people thinking we’re doing it just so she can get all this attention,” Andrews said. “It didn’t start out that way. It started out when some fine young men stood up for her in a bullying situation. I didn’t want to lose track of that. I don’t want to take away from what those boys did.”
As for Desiree, dad said she’s taking it in stride.
“Desiree has always been under the assumption, since she’s had an assistant (help her at school), that she’s famous,” Andrews said. “So now her dream is coming true and she’s just on cloud nine. As her father, it is quite a feeling,” Cliff Andrews said.
Next year Desiree will attend Tremper High School with her older sister Haley, 17, who had planned on having to introduce her to everyone. But now, with the worldwide attention, she might have to change her plan.
“Haley is thinking she will now be introduced as Desiree’s sister,” Andrews said. “(She) said, ‘We’ll never hear the end of it now!’”