Tiny Cheerleader Runs Across Gym, Soldier Mom Drops to Knees in Tears


The fourth grade had been a year of big changes for 10-year-old Jazmyn: new family, new school, and mom in Kuwait.

But by the end of the school year, Jazmyn was all smiles, left with a memory she will forever cherish.

It all began in July 2017, when U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Janae Ratledge, a single mother, kissed her daughter goodbye.

Everything was set up for Jazmyn to be well taken care of during her mother’s nine-month deployment to Kuwait.

Jazmyn moved in with family friends in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She started going to a new school, and found friendship when she joined the cheer squad.

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Jazmyn and her mom communicated every day via video chat. In May, Ratledge told Jazmyn she would be home very soon, on the Tuesday after Mother’s Day.

But the 14-year Army veteran returned home to Fort Bliss earlier than anticipated. She was just in time to watch her daughter compete in the Razzle Dazzle Cheer Competition being held at Las Cruces High School.


When Ratledge first glimpsed her daughter wearing her orange and white cheer uniform, she cried with joy. Ratledge was so visibly overwhelmed with emotion, school staff took notice and asked her if something was wrong.

“I told them who I was and what I was doing there,” Ratledge said. “And they said, ‘We’re going to do something huge for you.'”

Staff members kept Ratledge discreetly hidden during the competition. They asked her to write a message to Jazmyn, which was read over the loudspeakers as Jazmyn’s team took the floor for their turn.

When the cheer team finished, Ratledge approached her daughter. The moment Jazmyn noticed her mother was there, she lost it, and so did the rest of the gym.

“She saw me and the pom poms were gone,” Ratledge said. “My baby came a running.”

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“Then the waterworks started again,” Ratledge said, as she and Jazmyn embraced. “It was so amazing to see my daughter.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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