'Everything you throw at Cheyanne, she overcomes it'

FLORENCE, Ore. - Cheyanne Rudder loves football.

And like many girls, she grew up wanting to be a cheerleader.

Unlike most girls, she was born with Down syndrome and autism.

But that doesn't stop her.

"It seems like everything you throw at Cheyanne, she overcomes it," said Larry Rudder, Cheyanne's father. "She just steps right through and steps up."

She's now the 12th member of the varsity squad at Siuslaw High School.

"It makes my heart happy to see these girls embrace her," said Marci DiCarlo, Cheyanne's mother.

"She grew up," Rudder said. "In the last 3 months that she's been cheerleading, she went from being a little girl to being mature."

It's been a learning experience not only for Cheyanne but for the whole team.

"Sometimes you don't want to get on her because you don't want to be mean," said Saige Scheer, one of the senior cheerleaders. "But her dad's always telling us to be strict and help her out, so it's nice because we see her improving."