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Saints add a 40-year-old cheerleader

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In an offseason marked by NFL cheerleader lawsuits and allegations of a “jiggle test,” there’s a feel-good story in New Orleans.

The Saints have hired a 40-year-old woman who is battling kidney disease for their Saintsations squad.

“For me, trying out for the Saintsations was something I always wanted to do,” Kriste Lewis told the Hattiesburg, Miss., American. “It was on my bucket list. I grew up on the [Gulf] coast and was a Saints fan all my life. … I went into [the tryout] with the idea that the audition would be a celebration.”

The mother of two children, Lewis, who was diagnosed with kidney disease 14 years ago, has a family history of the disease. Her mother’s body has twice rejected a transplanted kidney and Lewis has decided to live for today — while focusing on her own health.

“Today is the day, not tomorrow,” she said. “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.”

Lewis is one of 36 women chosen for the Saintsations. “Our program encompasses more than just dance and cheer,” she said. “My emphasis is team building and teaching young women how to represent in a positive manner. We do a lot of community work and work with children. We understand that we serve as role models for young girls.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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