Ashley and Ginger Ferraro are the mother-daughter team behind the CMass Challenger program. They worked for 12 years to get the Pop Warner cheer program off the ground and give kids with special needs a community where they can be themselves and continue to grow.
“I just think it’s amazing that they’re giving kids with special needs… They’re giving us the opportunity to be in a setting where we are normal, where we are equal, where we can be who we are…” said Challengers cheerleader Megan Connelly.
The first practice Megan’s mom Lori watched, she witnessed her daughter stand for two hours without a walker — something she’d never seen before. Although many families travel an average of 45 minutes to participate in the CMass Challenger program, the journey is undoubtedly worth it to the parents and kids involved.
“You can’t explain Coach Ashley and Coach Ginger because they are truly amazing individuals,” Lori said. “I think the biggest thing is that they truly understand the kids, and they meet them where they’re at, and then they’ll push them from there. They’re so nurturing and yet hold them accountable. It really shows me what Megan is capable of.”
The Challenger program is now in its third season. Watch the video to meet Ashley, Ginger, and the cheerleaders of the Challenger program.