NFL

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Mother of 2 with kidney disease makes cheerleading squad for New Orleans Saints at age 40

  • Print

NEW ORLEANS - She hadn't done splits and high kicks since her cheerleading days in high school, but 40-year-old dance instructor Kriste Lewis set a lofty goal: to try out for the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad, known as the Saintsations.

Faced with competition from women who mostly ranged in age from 18 to 28, Lewis never thought she'd make the team. And then, she did.

"I wanted to set a goal for myself, and the audition was a specific date that required specific training, so my goal was just to make it to the audition," said Lewis, who lives with her husband and two sons in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about 100 miles northeast of New Orleans. "Honestly, I really did not think I was going to make it."

Lewis is one of only two NFL cheerleaders in her 40s, and she's the oldest to ever audition for the Saintsations, said Lesslee Fitzmorris, director of the squad since 2001. The other dancer is 45-year-old Laura Vikmanis, who has been with the Cincinnati Bengals dance team, the Ben-Gals, since making the squad at age 40.

"The applications hadn't been processed when the dance auditions started, so the judges didn't even know Kriste was 40 until she had made it through three rounds of cuts and revealed her age in the interview round," Fitzmorris said.

Something besides her age sets Lewis apart. A big part of her motivation was her will to make the most of every day since being diagnosed with a debilitating kidney disease that will eventually lead to dialysis treatments and the need for a kidney transplant. Several family members have died of the disease, and her mother has already undergone dialysis and a kidney transplant that her body twice rejected.

Lewis said she had to have her doctor's permission to join the 36-member Saintsations.

"I know my time is limited," Lewis said. "I don't want to let any time go. I want to make every day count."

Lewis will take the field with the Saintsations when the New Orleans Saints play their first exhibition game of the season Aug. 15 at the Superdome against the Tennessee Titans.

"I can't wait to get on that field," she said. "Just being able to put a cheerleading uniform back on and go at it for my favourite team is unbelievable to me, and I'm having a blast."

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Sneak peek: MTS Centre’s renovations for 2014/15 season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How many goals do you think Evander Kane will score this year?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google