In 2009, the Oprah Show featured the Spartan Sparkles, a group of spunky cheerleaders with developmental disabilities—from autism to Down syndrome—who gave their Bettendorf, Iowa, community a reason to be thankful.

Watch why the Spartan Sparkles deserve big thanks.

Sarah and Sarah, the two young founders of the Spartan Sparkles, went on to start a nonprofit organization called the Sparkle Effect. Using money from donations, a Pepsi Refresh grant of $25,000, and $10,000 from America's Best Dance Crew, they have helped start 17 Sparkle Effect cheer squads for young people with special needs across the country.


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