EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – One local cheer squad—East Greenbush Pop Warner—has made it to the 2021 Pop Warner Nationals Cheer and Dance Competition after performing a near perfect routine at regionals this month. One special cheerleader had to overcome a major health problem to get there.

Genevieve Garner, 11, said It’s her first year joining a team sport and added that she joined the squad to be with her friends, but also to get stronger.

Genevieve was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect as a newborn, and needed open heart surgery to survive. Even after the surgery, her mom, Amy Garner, wasn’t sure what life would be like for Genevieve

“We weren’t sure if she’s have activity restrictions or not be able to do sports.” Amy Garner said. “So, for her to get fully cleared to do these things, group sports for the first time is amazing and she’s doing so well at it.”

Like Genevieve, most of this team is new to the sport. Thus, winning their category and receiving no deductions for their regional performance was a huge victory.

“The coaches kept on helping us get to the finals and I’m really excited,” Genevieve Garner said.

Currently, they are fundraising for the expensive trip to nationals in Orlando with a Ziti Dinner and silent auction at the the East Greenbush Elks club on Sunday, November 21 at 4 p.m. They also started a GoFundMe page for the effort.