Ohio special needs cheer team adds dog to roster team

Posted at 1:50 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 13:53:40-05

A group of young athletes from Northeast Ohio is giving us all a reason to smile.

They're members of a special cheer team that’s set to strut their stuff on the national stage.

Sunday, we got a sneak peek at their routine, which will certainly have the fur flying at their next competition.

Team Zeta is tearing up the mat, but those in the audience will notice a twist to their performance.

"This is the first time we know of that a service dog is going to be on the competitive mat," said AJ Gamin, Cheer World Co-Owner.

Among the athletes with special needs, you’ll find Cyclone.

The service dog helps Harrison Chmura, who is non-verbal, stay focused.

"Otherwise, Harrison has a tough time getting through all the lights and sound and all the sensory input," said John Chmura, Harrison's father.

Chmura said Cyclone helps his son off the cheer mat as well.

He said his 7-year old is now more social with his teammates.

"He'll go up to them now and initiate interaction and dance with them, play with them, and that was something when we started Harrison wasn't doing at all," said Chmura.

Gamin said they’ve noticed the change in Harrison as well.

"We've seen tremendous growth and acceleration what he's gotten to do with the use of a service dog, so we're excited to add a canine to the roster," said Gamin.

The team, along with Cyclone, is ready to head to the Cheerleading World Championships down in Orlando.

Melanie Beluca, a Zeta performer for the past four years, is excited about performing on a national level.

"I love the crowds, they're really nice and friendly," said Beluca.

If Sunday’s performance in Cleveland is any indication, these superstars are ready to shine when they hit the Sunshine State.