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
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)
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(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.)