Stargazing

40-year-old mom of two with kidney disease becomes New Orleans Saints cheerleader

Kriste Lewis has impressed a lot of people by making the cheerleading squad for the New Orleans Saints.
Kriste Lewis has impressed a lot of people by making the cheerleading squad for the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans Saints website

Kriste Lewis was more than a little nervous when she tried out for the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad. Could a 40-year-old mother of two compete against younger women? Yep, she could.

And now Lewis, from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, can scratch one more thing off her bucket list: She is an NFL cheerleader.

As a 40th birthday gift to herself, the longtime dance instructor decided to fulfill a dream by trying out for the squad, she said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” (Watch the interview here.)

“There were a lot of young, beautiful girls,” she said. “It was a fear. I will not lie.”

What she feared more, though, was not trying. Fourteen years ago she was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease.

“Eventually my kidneys will shut down (and) I will be in need of dialysis and in need of a transplant,” she said. “That had a lot to do with me auditioning as well. I didn’t want to waste a day.”

So she tried out for the New Orleans Saintsations in April and made the 36-member squad. She’ll make her debut at the Saints’ home opener at the Superdome in September.

She told her hometown newspaper, the Hattiesburg American, that after watching her mother’s body reject a transplanted kidney twice she decided to wring as much as she could out of each day.

“Today is the day, not tomorrow,” she told the paper. “Wear your best shoes. Don’t save that bottle of wine. Why are you hoarding that from yourself? …

“I know there is no cure for (my kidney disease,) and I know that I will be on dialysis and in need of a transplant, but I could be killed in a car wreck tomorrow. … I think too many times we wait too late to start on our bucket lists. Start it while you feel good and can enjoy it.”

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