Cheerleader chases dreams to honor mother

Cheerleader Valerie Courtright accepted a scholarship to Davenport University.

A Gaylord High School senior is making school history, receiving a scholarship to continue cheerleading at Davenport University, the national reigning champs.

Valerie Courtright already signed with the university downstate. The scholarship signing ceremony will be held in Gaylord Monday. The event was moved up so Valerieâ??s mother will be able to attend.

After a long battle with cancer, last week doctors told Pamela Courtright she has less than four months left to live.

Now Valerie is weighing the good with the bad, as her mother most likely won't be able to see her compete again.

Valerie has been cheerleading for about six years.

â??I asked the coach if she was good enough to make the team because we'd never done any kind of cheerleading before,â?? said Courtright. â??So she made varsity that first year. Sheâ??s good.â??

Her team is like a second family, and that's something Valerie has had to rely on the past few years.

â??They have really stepped up and done every thing they can to help support her,â?? said Coach Jessica Boulter. â??I've never seen such a tight group of girls.â??

â??They have been my crutch, not the crutches I use right now, but they've been a crutch for me. They've always let me talk to them and open up to them,â?? said Valerie.

From the girls' hair bows to the crowdâ??s pink attire, the community has rallied behind Valerie's family and her mother's battle with cancer.

For Pam, making it out to Thursday night's competitive cheer meet was difficult.

â??It was a big step. It's hard. I'm exhausted but I wouldn't be anywhere else. She's my girl,â?? said Courtright.

Courtright wasn't able to watch her daughter cheer at the competition. Valerie sprained her ankle a couple weeks ago and is out for the rest of the season.

â??I wish I could cheer for my mom again, but she'll be seeing me,â?? said Valerie. â??I know that down the road when I'm feeling down I can remember the good times.â??

Courtright is grateful to have at least seen her daughter perform at the Davenport try-outs. â??I've been crying a lot because it's such a great opportunity for her. I'll be watching her cheer from heaven. It'll be great.â??

â??She has bigger and better things to move on to, so we're excited for that for her. We're bummed to have lost her for the rest of the season,â?? said Boulter.

Valerie is technically a cancer survivor because her mother first got cancer while she pregnant with her. Courtright underwent treatment after Valerie was born, but the cancer came back in 2005.

Valerie plans to study oncology nursing while attending Davenport.