New Orleans Saints cheerleader Kriste Lewis has the moves to rival any NFL cheerleader, but there are two things that set her apart.
Lewis, of Hattiesberg, Miss., is 40-years-old and the mother of two boys, ages 14 and 11.
A longtime dance instructor, Lewis decided to fulfill a lifelong dream when she turned 40 and tried out for the New Orleans Saintsations this past April.
“There were a lot of young, beautiful girls,” Lewis told ABC News of her competition, who ranged in age from 18 to 30. “It was a fear. I will not lie.”
Lewis was not just fighting against her age but also against a health issue that she says she turned into an inspiration instead of an obstacle.
“Fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with polysistic kidney disease,” Lewis said. “Eventually my kidneys will shut down [and] I will be in need of dialysis and in need of a transplant.”
“That had a lot to do with me auditioning as well,” she said. “I didn’t want to waste a day.”
Lewis wasted no time in capturing the judges’ attention. After three rounds of tryouts, Lewis found out she was one of 36 women selected for the 2014-2015 Saintsations team.
“The day I got the news I was really beside myself,” Lewis said. “It was really exciting.”
Lewis is now looking forward to making her NFL debut at the Saints’ home opener at the Superdome in September.
"I cannot wait for us to run out for the first time and we run out on that field," Lewis said.
In the meantime, she is practicing daily and enjoying the support of her sons, Jake and Rob, and husband, Tim.
“I’m especially proud that she made it and she’s the best mom a child could have,” said Rob, 11.
“It’s just amazing to watch her dance,” said her husband, Tim.
Lewis says she hopes she can serve as an inspiration to others, especially moms, to never give up on their dreams.
“I think as moms we are hard-wired to give and we give and we give and we give,” she said. “I think it’s important to think back what made you excited as a child.”
- Sports & Recreation