Mom of 2, Age 40, Makes NFL Cheerleader

Kriste Lewis was inspired to try out by her kidney disease

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 17, 2014 9:48 AM CDT

(Newser) – Finally, a nice story about cheerleading in the NFL: Kriste Lewis is a 40-year-old mother of two who has a debilitating kidney disease that will ultimately require dialysis and a kidney transplant ... and she's also one of the newest cheerleaders for the New Orleans Saints. Her diagnosis inspired Lewis to make the most of every day, because "I know my time is limited," she says. So, with her doctor's permission, she set a goal: Try out for the Saintsations. "Honestly, I really did not think I was going to make" the cut, she tells the AP. But, the squad's director tells the Sun-Herald, "it was a unanimous decision to put her on the team. ... When she needed to blend with the others, she did, and when she needed to stand out, she did."

She was the oldest person ever to audition for the team, and her competition was made up mostly of women ages 18 to 28. Because the applications weren't processed before the dance auditions started, "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," the director says. Lewis, who was a high school cheerleader and is currently a dance instructor, is one of just two NFL cheerleaders in her 40s; the other, Laura Vikmanis, is 45 and has been dancing with the Cincinnati Bengals Ben-Gals since age 40. Lewis' first time performing with the 36-member squad will be Aug. 15 at an exhibition game. "It's a family," Lewis says. "It's like I have 35 little sisters." (In less heartwarming news, click to see why one columnist thinks NFL cheerleaders really do have it bad.)

New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints cheerleader Kriste Lewis, right, her sons Jake, 14, and Rob, 11, center, and her Mother Vassie Owens, left, poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints cheerleader Kriste Lewis, right, her sons Jake, 14, and Rob, 11, center, and her Mother Vassie Owens, left, poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie,...   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis, right, embraces a teammate at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis, right, embraces a teammate at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis, center, performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis, center, performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis reacts during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis reacts during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis performs during a photo shoot at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
New Orleans Saints Saintsation Kriste Lewis poses for a photograph at the NFL football team's training facility in Metairie, La., Wednesday, July 16, 2014.   (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow

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

« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
5%
4%
6%
67%
5%
13%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   HitFix   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   CollegeHumor   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!